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yh. ^5/ 





Fbllow op King's Collbgb, Cambridgb 






[Ail fights reserved'^ 





JANUARY 27, 1933 







I WROTE these stories at long intervals, and 
most of them were read to patient friends, 
usually at the season of Christmas. One of 
these friends offered to illustrate them, and 
it was agreed that, if he would do that, I 
would consider the question of publishing 
them. Four pictures he completed, which 
will be found in this volume, and then, very 
quickly and unexpectedly, he was taken away. 
This is the reason why the greater part of the 
stories are not provided with illustrations. 
Those who knew the artist will understand 
how much I wished to give a permanent 
form even to a fragment of his work ; others 
will appreciate the fact that here a remem- 
brance is made of one in whom many friend- 
ships centred. 

• • 


The stories themselves do not make any- 
very exalted claim. If any of them succeed 
in causing their readers to feel pleasantly 
imcomfortable when walking along a solitary 
road at nightfall, or sitting over a dying fire 
in the smaU hours, my purpose in writing 
them will have been attained. 

Two of them — ^the first two in the volume 
— have appeared in print in the National 
Review and the Pall Mall Magazine respec- 
tively, and I wish to thank the Editors of 
those periodicals for kindly allowing me to 

republish them here. 


King's College, Cambridge^ 
Allhallows' Even, 1904. 




jk JJ08T HEARTS - - - - - 29 

THE MEZZOTINT - - - - - 63 

THE ASH-TREE - - - - - 81 

-^ NUMBER 13 . - - - - 113 

COUNT MAGNUS - - - - . 149 

(£) * OH, WHISTLE, AND I'lX COME TO YOU, MY LAD ' - 181 






THE SACRISTAN - - - frontispiece 


ANXIETY - - - - „ 204 






St. Bertrand de Comminges is a decayed 
town on the spurs of the Pyrenees, not very 
far from Toulouse, and still nearer to Bagn^res- 
de-Luchon. It was the site of a bishopric 
until the Revolution, and has a cathedral 
which is visited by a certain number of tourists. 
In the spring of 1883 an Englishman arrived 
at this old-world place — I can hardly dignify 
it with the name of city, for there are not a 
thousand inhabitants. He was a Cambridge 
man, who had come specially from Toulouse 
to see St. Bertrand's Church, and had left 
two friends, who were less keen archaeologists 
than himself, in their hotel at Toulouse, 
imder promise to join him on the following 

3 1—2 


morning. Half an hour at the church 
would satisfy them^ and all three could then 
pursue theu* journey in the direction of 
Auch. But our Englishman had come early 
on the day in question, and proposed to him- 
self to fill a note-book and to use several 
dozens of plates in the process of describing 
and photographing every comer of the wonder- 
ful church that dominates the little hill of 
Comminges. In order to carry out this design 
satisfactorily, it was necessary to monopolize 
the verger of the church for the day. 
The verger or sacristan (I prefer the latter 
appellation, inaccurate as it may be) was 
accordingly sent for by the somewhat brusque 
lady who keeps the inn of the Chapeau Rouge ; 
and when he came, the Englishman found him 
an unexpectedly interesting object of study. 
It was not in the personal appearance of the 
little, dry, wizened old man that the interest 
lay, for he was precisely like dozens of other 
church-guardians in France, but in a curious 
furtive, or rather hunted and oppressed, air 
which he had. He was perpetually half 


glancing behind him ; the muscles of his back 
and shoulders seemed to be hunched in a 
continual nervous contraction, as if he were 
expecting every moment to find himself in the 
clutch of an enemy. The Englishman hardly 
knew whether to put him down as a man 
haimted by a fixed delusion, or as one oppressed 
by a guilty conscience, or as an unbearably 
henpecked husband. The probabilities, when 
reckoned up, certainly pointed to the last idea ; 
but, still, the impression conveyed was that 
of a more formidable persecutor even than a 
termagant wife. 

However, the Englishman (let us call him 
Dennistoun) was soon too deep in his note- 
book and too busy with his camera to give 
more than an occasional glance to the sacristan. 
Whenever he did look at him, he found him at 
no great distance, either huddling himself back 
against the wall or crouching in one of the 
gorgeous stalls. Dennistoun became rather 
fidgety after a time. Mingled suspicions that 
he was keeping the old man from his dejeuner y 
that he was regarded as likely to make away 


with St. Bertrand's ivory crozier, or with the 
dusty stuffed crocodile that hangs over the 
font, began to torment him. 

* Won't you go home V he said at last ; ^ I'm 
quite well able to finish my notes alone ; you 
can lock me in if you like. I shall want at 
least two hours more here, and it must be cold 
for you, isn't it ?' 

^ Good heavens !' said the little man, whom 
the suggestion seemed to throw into a state of 
imaccountable terror, ^ such a thing cannot be 
thought of for a moment. Leave monsieur 
alone in the church ? No, no ; two hours, 
three hours, all will be the same to me. I 
have breakfasted, I am not at all cold, with 
many thanks to monsieur.' 

^ Very well, my little man,' quoth Dennis- 
toun to himself: *you have been warned, 
and you must take the consequences.' 

Before the expiration of the two hours, the 
stalls, the enormous dilapidated organ, the 
choir-screen of Bishop John de Maul^on, the 
remnants of glass and tapestry, and the objects 
in the treasure-chamber, had been well and 


truly examined ; the sacristan still keeping at 
Dennistoun's heels, and every now and then 
whipping round as if he had been stung, when 
one or other of the strange noises that trouble 
a large empty building fell on his ear. Curious 
noises they were sometimes. 

* Once,' Dennistoun said to me, * I could 
have sworn I heard a thin metallic voice 
laughing high up in the tower. I darted 
an inquiring glance at my sacristan. He 
was white to the lips. "It is he — that is — 
it is no one ; the door is locked," was all he 
said, and we looked at each other for a fall 

Another little incident puzzled Dennistoun 
a good deal. He was examining a large dark 
picture that hangs behind the altar, one of a 
series illustrating the miracles of St. Bertrand. 
The composition of the picture is well-nigh 
indecipherable, but there is a Latin legend 
below, which runs thus : 

^Qualiter S. Bertrandus liberavit hominem quern 
diabolus diu volebat strangulare.^ (How St. Bertrand 
delivered a in€ui whom the Devil long sought to 


Dennistoun was turning to the sacristan with 
a smile and a jocular remark of some sort on 
his Ups, but he was confounded to see the old 
man on his knees, gazing at the picture with 
the eye of a suppliant in agony, his hands 
tightly clasped, and a rain of tears on his 
cheeks. Dennistoun naturally pretended to have 
noticed nothing, but the question would not 
away from him, ' Why should a daub of this 
kind affect anyone so strongly T He seemed 
to himself to be getting some sort of clue to 
the reason of tlie strange look that liad been 
puzzling him all the day : the man must be a 
monomaniac ; but what was his monomania 1 

It was nearly five o'clock ; the short da] 
was drawing in, and the church began to fill 
with shadows, while the curious noises — the 
muffled footfalls and distant talking voices 
that had been perceptible all day — seemed, m 
doubt because of the fading light and th( 
consequently quickened sense of hearing, 
become more frequent and insistent. 

The sacristan began for the first time 
show signs of hurry and impatience. Hi 

11 I 


heaved a sigh of relief when camera and note- 
book were finaUy packed up and stowed away, 
and hurriedly beckoned Dennistoun to the 
western door of the church, under the tower. 
It was time to ring the Angelus. A few pulls 
at the reluctant rope, and the great bell Ber- 
trande, high in the tower, began to speak, and 
swung her voice up among the pines and down 
to the valleys, loud with mountain-streams, 
calling the dwellers on those lonely hills to 
remember and repeat the salutation of the 
angel to her whom he called Blessed among 
women. With that a profound quiet seemed 
to fall for the first time that day upon the 
little town, and Dennistoun and the sacristan 
went out of the church. 

On the doorstep they fell into conversation. 

* Monsieur seemed to interest himself in the 
old choir-books in the sacristy.' 

* Undoubtedly. I was going to ask you if 
there were a library in the town.' 

*No, monsieur; perhaps there used to be 
one belonging to the Chapter, biit it is now 
such a small place ' Here came a strange 


pause of irresolution, as it seemed ; then, with 
a sort of plunge, he went on : * But if mon- 
sieur is amateur des vieiLX livres, I have at 
home something that might interest him. It 
is not a himdred yards.' 

At once all Dennistoun's cherished dreams 
of finding priceless manuscripts in untrodden 
comers of France flashed up, to die down again 
the next moment. It was probably a stupid 
missal of Plantin's printing, about 1580. 
Where was the likelihood that a place so 
near Toulouse would not have been ransacked 
long ago by collectors ? However, it would 
be foolish not to go ; he would reproach him- 
self for ever after if he refiised. So they set 
off. On the way the curious irresolution and 
sudden determination of the sacristan recurred 
to Dennistoun, and he wondered in a shame- 
faced way whether he was being decoyed into 
some purlieu to be made away with as a 
supposed rich Englishman. He contrived, 
therefore, to begin talking with his guide, and 
to drag in, in a rather clumsy fashion, the 
fact that he expected two friends to join him 


early the next morning. To his surprise, the 
announcement seemed to relieve the sacristan 


at once of some of the anxiety that oppressed 

* That is well,' he said quite brightly — * that 
is very well. Monsieur will travel in company 
with his friends ; they will be always near 
him. It is a good thing to travel thus in 
company — sometimes.' 

The last word appeared to be added as an 
afterthought, and to bring with it a relapse 
into gloom for the poor little man. 

They were soon at the house, which was 
one rather larger than its neighbours, stone- 
built, with a shield carved over the door, the 
shield of Alberic de Maul^on, a collateral 
descendant, Dennistoun. tells me, of Bishop 
John de Maul^on. This Alberic was a Canon 
of Comminges from 1680 to 1701. The 
upper windows of the mansion were boarded 
up, and the whole place bore, as does the rest 
of Comminges, the aspect of decaying age. 

Arrived on his doorstep, the sacristan paused 
a moment. 


* Perhaps/ he said, ^ perhaps, after all, mon- 
sieur has not the time V 

*Not at all — lots of time — nothing to do 
till to-morrow. Let us see what it is you 
have got/ 

The door was opened at this point, and a 
face looked out, a face far younger than the 
sacristan's, but bearing something of the same 
distressing look: only here it seemed to be 
the mark, not so much of fear for personal 
safety as of acute anxiety on behalf of 
another. Plainly, the owner of the face was 
the sacristan's daughter ; and, but for the 
expression I have described, she was a hand- 
some girl enough. She brightened up con- 
siderably on seeing her father accompianied 
by an able-bodied stranger. A few remarks 
passed between father and daughter, of which 
Dennistoim only caught these words, said by 
the sacristan, * He was laughing in the church,' 
words which were answered only by a look 
of terror from the girl. 

But in another minute they were in the sit- 
ting-room of the house, 4 small, high chamber 


with a stone floor, full of moving shadows 
cast by a wood-fire that flickered on a gredt 
hearth. Something of the character of an 
oratory was imparted to it by a taU crucifix, 
which reached almost to the ceiling on one 
side ; the figure was painted of the natural 
colours., the cross was black. Under this 
stood a chest of some age and solidity, and 
when a lamp had been brought, and chairs 
set, the sacristan went to this chest, and pro- 
duced therefrom, with growing excitement and 
nervousness, as Dennistoun thought, a large 
book, wrapped in a white cloth, on which 
cloth a cross was rudely embroidered in red 
thread. Even before the wrapping had been 
removed, Dennistoun began to be interested by 
the size and shape of the volume. * Too large 
for a missal,' he thought, * and not the shape 
of an antiphoner ; perhaps it may be some- 
thing good, after all.' The next moment the 
book was open, and Dennistoun felt that he 
had at last lit upon something better than 
good. Before him lay a large folio, bound, 
perhaps, late in the seventeenth century, with 


the arms of Canon Alberic de Maul^n 
stamped in gold on the sides. There may have 
been a hmidred and fifty leaves of paper in 
the book, and on almost every one of them 
was fastened a leaf from an iUmninated manu- 
script. Such a collection Dennistoun had hardly 
dreamed of in his wildest moments. Here 
were ten leaves from a copy of Gtenesis, 
illustrated with pictures, which could not be 
later than 700 a.d. Further on was a com- 
plete set of pictures from a Psalter, of 
English execution, of the very finest kind that 
the thirteenth century could produce; and, 
perhaps best of all, there were twenty leaves 
of uncial writing in Latin, which, as a few 
words seen here and there told him at once, 
must belong to some very early unknown 
patristic treatise. Could it possibly be a frag- 
ment of the copy of Papias ^ On the Words 
of Our Lord,' which was known to have 
existed as late as the twelfth century at 
Nimes?'* In any case, his mind was made 

* We now know that these leaves did contain a 
considerable fragment of that work, if not of that 
actual copy of it. 


up; that book must return to Cambridge 
with him, even if he had to draw the whole 
of his balance from the bank and stay at 
St. Bertrand tiU the money came. He glanced 
up at the sacristan to see if his face yielded 
any hint that the book was for sale. The 
sacristan was pale, and his lips were working. 

. If monriJr will turn on to the end,' he 

So monsieur turned on, meeting new trea- 
sures at every rise of a leaf ; and at the end 
of the book he came upon two sheets of paper, 
of much more recent date than anything he 
had yet seen, which puzzled him considerably. 
They must be contemporary, he decided, with 
the imprincipled Canon Alberic, who had 
doubtless plundered the Chapter library of 
St. Bertrand to form this priceless scrap-book. 
On the first of the paper sheets was a plan, 
carefuUy drawn and instantly recognisable by 
a person who knew the ground, of the south 
aisle and cloisters of St. Bertrand's. There 
were curious signs looking like planetary 
symbols, and a few Hebrew words in the 


comers ; and in the north-west angle of the 
cloister was a cross drawn in gold paint. 
Below the plan were some lines of writing in 
Latin, which ran thus : 

^ Responsa 18^ Dec. 1694. Interrogatum est : In- 
veniamne P Respousum est : Invenies. Fiamne dives ? 
Fies. Vivairine invidendus ? Vives. Moriarne in lecto 
meo ? Ita.' (Answers of the 12th of December, 1694. 
It was asked: Shall I find it? Answer: Thou shalt. 
Shall I become rich? Thou wilt. Shall I live an 
object of envy ? Thou wilt. Shall I die in my bed ? 
Thou wilt.) 

*A good specimen of the treasure-hunter's 
record — quite reminds one of Mr. Minor-Canon 
Quatremain in " Old St. Paul's," ' was Dennis- 
toun's comment, and he turned the leaf. 

What he then saw impressed him, as he has 
often told me, more than he could have con- 
ceived any drawing or picture capable of im- 
pressing him. And, though the drawmg he 
saw is no longer in existence, there is a photo- 
graph of it (which I possess) which ftdly 
bears out that statement. The picture in 
question was a sepia drawing at the end of the 
seventeenth century, representing, one would 


say at first sight, a Biblical scene ; for the 
architecture (the picture represented an in- 
terior) and the figures had that semi-classical 
flavour about them which the artists of two 
hundred years ago thought appropriate to 
illustrations of the Bible. On the right was 
a King on his throne, the throne elevated on 
twelve steps, a canopy overhead, soldiers on 
either side — evidently King Solomon. He 
was bending forward with outstretched sceptre, 
in attitude of command; his face expressed 
horror and disgust, yet there was in it also 
the mark of imperious command and confi- 
dent power. The left half of the picture was 
the strangest, however. The interest plainly 
centred there. On the pavement before the 
throne were grouped four soldiers, surrounding 
a crouching figure which must be described in 
a moment. A fifth soldier lay dead on the 
pavement, his neck distorted, and his eyeballs 
starting from his head. The four surrounding 
guards were looking at the King. In their 
faces the sentiment of horror was intensified ; 
they seemed, in fact, only restrained from flight 



by their implicit trust in their master. All 
this terror was plainly excited by the being 
that crouched in their midst. I entirely 
despair of conveying by any words the impres- 
sion which this figure makes upon anyone who 
looks at it. I recollect once showing the 
photograph of the drawing to a lecturer on 
morphology — a person of, I was going to say, 
abnormaUy sane and unhnaginative habits of 
mind. He absolutely refiised to be alone for 
the rest of that evening, and he told me after- 
wards that for many nights he had not dared 
to put out his light before going to sleep. 
However, the main traits of the figure I can 
at least indicate. At first you saw only a mass 
of coarse, matted black hair ; presently it was 
seen that this covered a body of fearful thin- 
ness, almost a skeleton, but with the muscles 
standing out like wires. The hands were of a 
dusky pallor, covered, like the body, with long, 
coarse hairs, and hideously taloned. The eyes, 
touched in with a burning yellow, had intensely 
black pupils, and were fixed upon the throned 
King with a look of beast-like hate. Imagine 


one of the awful bird-catching spiders of South 
America translated into human form, and 
endowed with intelligence just less than 
human, and you will have some faint con- 
ception of the terror inspired by the appalling 
effigy. One remark is universally made by 
those to whom I have shown the picture : * It 
was drawn from the life/ 

As soon as the first shock of his irresistible 
fright had subsided, Dennistoun stole a look at 
his hosts. The sacristan's hands were pressed 
upon his eyes ; his daughter, looking up at the 
cross on the wall, was telling her beads 

At last the question was asked, * Is this book 
for sale V 

There was the same hesitation, the same 
plunge of determination, that he had noticed 
before, and then came the welcome answer, 
^ If monsieur pleases.' 

* How much do you ask for it V 

* I will take two hundred and fifty francs.' 
This was confounding. Even a collector's 

conscience is sometimes stirred, and Dennis- 



toun*s conscience was tenderer than a col- 

* My good man !' he said again and again, 
* your book is worth far more than two him- 
dred and fifty francs, I assure you — far more.' 

But the answer did not vary : * I wiU take 
two hundred and fifty francs, not more.' 

There was really no possibility of refiising 
such a chance. The money was paid, the 
receipt signed, a glass of wine drunk over the 
transaction, and then the sacristan seemed 
to become a new man. He stood upright, he 
ceased to throw those suspicious glances 
behind him, he actually laughed or tried to 
laugh. Dennistoun rose to go. 

* I shall have the honour of accompanying 
monsieur to his hotel V said the sacristan. 

* Oh no, thanks ! it isn't a hundred yards. I 
know the way perfectly, and there is a moon.' 

The offer was pressed three or four times, 
and refused as often. 

* Then, monsieur will sunmion me if — if he 
finds occasion ; he will keep the middle of the 
road, the sides are so rough.' 


* Certainly, certainly,' said Dennistoun, who 
was impatient to examine his prize by himself ; 
and he stepped out into the passage with his 
book mider his ann. 

Here he was met by the daughter ; she, it 
appeared, was anxious to do a little business 
on her own account ; perhaps, like Gehazi, to 
* take somewhat ' from the foreigner whom her 
father had spared. 

* A silver crucifix and chain for the neck ; 
monsieur would perhaps be good enough to 
accept it V 

Well, really, Dennistoun hadn't much use 
for these things. What did mademoiselle 
want for it ? 

* Nothing — nothing in the world. Monsieur 
is more than welcome to it.' 

The tone in which this and much more 
was said was unmistakably genuine, so that 
Dennistoun was reduced to profiise thanks, 
and submitted to have the chain put round 
his neck. It really seemed as if he had 
rendered the father and daughter some service 
which they hardly knew how to repay. As 


he set off with his book they stood at the door 
looking after him, and they were still looking 
when he waved them a last good-night from 
the steps of the Chapeau Rouge. 
• Dinner was over, and Dennistoun was in his 
bedroom, shut up alone with his acquisition. 
The landlady had manifested a particular 
interest in him since he had told her that he 
had paid a visit to the sacristan and bought an 
old book from him. He thought, too, that he 
had heard a hurried dialogue between her and 
the said sacristan in the passage outside the 
salle d, manger ; some words to the effect that 
' Pierre and Bertrand would be sleeping in the 
house ' had closed the conversation. 

At this time a growing feeling of discomfort 
had been creeping over him — nervous reaction, 
perhaps, after the delight of his discovery. 
Whatever it was, it resulted in a conviction 
that there was someone behind him, and that 
he was far more comfortable with his back to 
the wall. All this, of course, weighed light in 
the balance as against the obvious value of the 
collection he had acquired. And now, as I 


said, he was alone in his bedroom, taking stock 
of Canon Alberic's treasures, in which every 
moment revealed something more charming. 

* Bless Canon Alberic !' said Dennistoun, who 
had an inveterate habit of talking to himself. 
* I wonder where he is now ? Dear me I 1 
wish that landlady would learn to laugh in a 
more cheering manner ; it makes one feel as if 
there was someone dead in the house. Half a 
pipe more, did you say ? I think perhaps you 
are right. I wonder what that crucifix is that 
the young woman insisted on giving me ? 
Last century, I suppose. Yes, probably. It 
is rather a nuisance of a thing to have round 
one's neck — just too heavy. Most likely her 
fether has been wearing it for years. I think 
I might give it a clean up before I put it 

He had taken the crucifix off, and laid it on 
the table, when his attention was caught by an 
object lying on the red cloth just by his left 
elbow. Two or three ideas of what it might 
be flitted through his brain with their own 
incalculable quickness. 


'A penwiper? No, no such thing in the 
house. A rat? No, too black. A large 
spider ? I trust to goodness not — no. Good 
God 1 a hand like the hand in that picture I' 

In another infinitesimal flash he had taken 
it in. Pale, dusky skin, covering nothing but 
bones and tendons of appalling strength ; 
coarse black hairs, longer than ever grew on 
a human hand ; naUs rismg from the ends of 
the fingers and curving sharply down and 
forward, gray, homy and wrinkled. 

He flew out of his chair with deadly, incon- 
ceivable terror clutching at his heart. The 
shape, whose left hand rested on the table, 
was rising to a standing posture behind his 
seat, its right hand crooked above his scalp. 
There was black and tattered drapery about 
it ; the coarse hair covered it as in the draw- 
ing. The lower jaw was thin — what can I 
call it ? — shallow, like a beast's ; teeth showed 
behind the black lips ; there was no nose ; the 
eyes, of a fiery yellow, against which the pupils 
showed black and intense, and the exulting 
hate and thirst to destroy life which shone 


there, were the most horrifying feature m the 
whole vision. There was intelligence of a kind 
in them — intelligence beyond that of a beast, 
below that of a man. 

The feehngs which this horror stirred in 
Dennistoun were the mtensest physical fear and 
the most profound mental loathing. What 
did he do? What could he do? He has 
never been quite certain what words he said, 
but he knows that he spoke, that he grasped 
blindly at the silver crucifix, that he was con- 
scious of a movement towards him on the part 
of the demon, and that he screamed with the 
voice of an animal in hideous pain. 

Pierre and Bertrand, the two sturdy little 
serving-men, who rushed in, saw nothing, but 
felt themselves thrust aside by something that 
passed out between them, and found Dennis- 
toim in a swoon. They sat up with him that 
night, and his two friends were at St. Bertrand 
by nine o'clock next morning. He himself 
though still shaken and nervous, was almost 
himself by that time, and his story found 
credence with them, though not until they 


had seen the drawing and talked with the 

Almost at dawn the little man had come to 
the inn on some pretence, and had listened 
with the deepest interest to the story 
retailed by the landlady. He showed no sur- 

' It is he — ^it is he ! I have seen him 
myself,' was his only comment; and to all 
questionings but one reply was vouchsafed: 
*Deux fois je I'ai vu; mille fois je I'ai 
senti.' He would tell them nothing of the 
provenance of the book, nor any details of his 
experiences. * I shall soon sleep, and my rest 
will be sweet. Why should you trouble me V 
he said.^ 

We shall never know what he or Canon 
Alberic de Mauldon suffered. At the back of 
that fateful drawing were some lines of writing 
which may be supposed to throw light on the 
situation : 

* He died that summer; his daughter married, 
and settled at St. Papoul. She never understood the 
circumstances of her father^s ^ obsession.** 


* Contradicido Salomonis cum demonio noctumo. 

Albericus de Mauleone delineavit. 

V. Deus in adiutorium. Fs. Qui habitat. 

Sancte Bertrande, demoniorum effiigator, intercede pro 

me miserrimo. 
Primum uidi nocte 12™^ Dec 1694 : uidebo mox 
ultimum. Feccaui et passus sum, pluia adhuc 
passurus. Dec. 29, 1701/* 

I have never quite understood what was 
Dennistoun's view of the events I have nar- 
rated. He quoted to me once a text from 
Eeelesiastieus : * Some spirits there be that 
are created for vengeance, and in their fiiry 
lay on sore strokes.' On another occasion he 
said : * Isaiah was a very sensible man ; doesn't 

* Le.j The Dispute of Solomon with a demon of the 
night. Drawn by Alberic de Mauleon. Verside. O Lord, 
make haste to help me. PsaJm. Whoso dwelleth (xci.). 

Saint Bertrand, who puttest devils to flight, pray for 
me most unhappy. I saw it first on the night of 
Dec. 12, 1694 : soon I shall see it for the kst time. I 
have sinned and suffered, and have more to suffer yet. 
Dec. 29, 1701. 

The * Gallia Christiana^ gives the date oi the 
Canon's death as December 31, 1701, ^ in bed, of a 
sudden seizure.' Details of this kind are not common 
in the great work of the Sammarthani. 


he say something about night monsters living 
in the ruins of Babylon? These things are 
rather beyond us at present,' 

Another confidence of his impressed me 
rather, and I sympathized with it. We had 
been, last year, to Comminges, to see Canon 
Alberic's tomb. It is a great marble erection 
with an effigy of the Canon in a large wig and 
soutane, and an elaborate eulogy of his learning 
below. I saw Dennistoun talking for some 
time with the Vicar of St. Bertrand's, and 
as we drove away he said to me : * I hope 
it isn't wrong : you know I am a Presbyterian 
— ^but I — I believe there will be "saying of 
Mass and singmg of dirges " for Alberic de 
Maul^on's rest.' Then he added, with a touch 
of the Northern British in his tone, * I had 
no notion they came so dear.' 

The book is in the Wentworth Collection at 
Cambridge. The drawing was photographed 
and then burnt by Dennistoun on the day 
when he left Comminges on the occasion of 
his first visit. 



It was, as far as I can ascertain, in September 
of the year 1811 that a postchaise drew up 
before the door of Aswarby Hall, in the heart 
of Lincolnshire. The little boy who was the 
only passenger in the chaise, and who jumped 
out as soon as it had stopped, looked about 
him with the keenest curiosity during the short 
interval that elapsed between the ringing of 
the bell and the opening of the hall door. 
He saw a tall, square, red-brick house, built in 
the reign of Anne ; a stone-piUared porch had 
been added in the purer classical style of 1790; 
the windows of the house were many, tall and 
narrow, with smaU panes and thick white 
woodwork. A pediment, pierced with a round 
wmdow, crowned the front. There were wings 
to right and left, connected by curious glazed 



galleries, supported by colonnades, with the 
central block. These wings plainly contained 
the stables and offices of the house. Each was 
surmounted by an ornamental cupola with a 
gUded vane. 

An evening light shone on the building, 
making the window-panes glow like so many 
fires. Away from the Hall in front stretched 
a flat park studded with oaks and fringed with 
firs, which stood out against the sky. The 
clock in the church-tower, buried in trees on 
the edge of the park, only its golden weather- 
cock catching the light, was striking six, and the 
sound came gently beating down the wind. 
It was altogether a pleasant impression, though 
tinged with the sort of melancholy appropriate 
to an evening in early autunm, that was con- 
veyed to the mind of the boy who was stand- 
ing in the porch waiting for the door to open 
to him. 

He had just come from Warwickshire, and 
some six months ago had been left an orphan. 
Now, owing to the generous and unexpected 
offer of his elderly cousin, Mr. Abney, he had 


come to live at Aswarby. The offer was un- 
expected, because all who knew anything of 
Mr, Abney looked upon him as a somewhat 
austere recluse, into whose steady-going house- 
hold the advent of a small boy would import 
a new and, it seemed, incongraous element. 
The truth is that very little was known of 
Mr. Abney's pursuits or temper. The Pro- 
fessor of Greek at Cambridge had been heard 
to say that no one knew more of the religious 
beliefs of the later pagans than did the owner 
of Aswarby. Certainly his library contained 
all the then available books bearing on the 
Mysteries, the Orphic poems, the worship of 
Mithras, and the Neo-Platonists. In the 
marble-paved hall stood a fine group of 
Mithras slaying a bull, which had been im- 
ported from the Levant at great expense by 
the owner. He had contributed a description 
of it to the Gentleman's Magazine^ and he had 
written a remarkable series of articles in the 
Critical Museum on the superstitions of the 
Romans of the Lower Empire. He was 
looked upon, in fine, as a man wrapped up in 



his books, and it was a matter of great sur- 
prise among his neighbours that he should 
ever have heard of his orphan cousin, Stephen 
Elliott, much more that he should have 
volunteered to make him an inmate of 
Aswarby Hall. 

Whatever may have been expected by his 
neighbours, it is certain that Mr. Abney — ^the 
tall, the thin, the austere — seemed inclined to 
give his young cousin a kindly reception. The 
moment the front-door was opened he darted 
out of his study, rubbing his hands with 

*How are you, my boy? — how are you? 
How old are you V said he—* that is, you are 
not too much tired, I hope, by your journey to 
eat your supper V 

' No, thank you, sir,' said Master Elliott ; ' I 
am pretty well.' 

' That's a good lad,' said Mr. Abney. ' And 
how old are you, my boy ?' 

It seemed a little odd that he should have 
asked the question twice in the first two 
minutes of their acquaintance. 


* I'm twelve years old next birthday, sir,' 
said Stephen. 

* And when is your birthday, my dear boy ? 
Eleventh of September, eh? That's well — 
that's very well. Nearly a year hence, isn't 
it ? I like — ha, ha ! — I like to get these 
things down in my book. Sure it's twelve? 
Certain ?' 

* Yes, quite sure, sir.' 

•Well, well! Take him to Mrs. Bunch's 
room, Parkes, and let him have his tea — 
supper — whatever it is.* 

* Yes, sir,' answered the staid Mr. Parkes ; 
and conducted Stephen to the lower regions. 

Mrs. Bunch was the most comfortable and 
human person whom Stephen had as yet met 
in Aswarby. She made him completely at 
home ; they were great friends in a quarter 
of an hour : and great friends they remained. 
Mrs. Bimch had been bom in the neigh- 
bourhood some fifty-five years before the 
date of Stephen's arrival, and her residence 
at the Hall was of twenty years' standing. 
Consequently, if anyone knew the ins and outs 



of the house and the district, Mrs. Bunch 
knew them; and she was by no means dis- 
inclined to communicate her information. 

Certainly there were plenty of things about 
the Hall and the Hall gardens which Stephen, 
who was of an adventiu'ous and inquiring turn, 
was anxious to have explained to him. ' Who 
built the temple at the end of the laurel walk? 
Who was the old man whose picture hung on 
the staircase, sitting at a table, with a skull 
under his hand V These arid many similar 
points were cleared up by the resources of 
Mrs. Bunch's powerful intellect. There were 
others, however, of which the explanations 
furnished were less satisfactory. 

One November evening Stephen was sitting 
by the fire in the housekeeper's room reflecting 
on his surroundings. 

* Is Mr. Abney a good man, and will he go 
to heaven?' he suddenly asked, with the 
peculiar confidence which children possess in 
the ability of their elders to settle these ques- 
tions, the decision of which is believed to be 
reserved for other tribunals. 


* Good ? — ^bless the child !' said Mrs. Bunch. 
* Master's as kind a soul as ever I see I 
Didn't I never tell you of the little boy as he 
took in out of the street, as you may say, this 
seven years back ? and the little girl, two years 
after ^ first come here V 

*No. Do tell me all about them, Mrs. 
Bunch — now this minute !' 

' Well,' said Mrs. Bunch, ' the little gu-1 I 
don't seem to recollect so much about. I 
know master brought her back with him from 
his walk one day, and give orders to Mrs. 
Ellis, as was housekeeper then, as she should 
be took every care with. And the pore child 
hadn't no one belonging to her — she telled me 
so her own self— and here she lived with us a 
matter of three weeks it might be ; and then, 
whether she were somethink of a gipsy in her 
blood or what not, but one morning she out 
of her bed afore any of us had opened a eye 
and neither track nor yet trace of her have 1 
set eyes on since. Master was wonderfiil 
put about, and had ail the ponds dragged ; 
but it's my belief she was had away by them 


gipsies, for there was singing round the house 
for as much as an hour the night she went, 
and Parkes, he declare as he heard them 
a-calling in the woods all that afternoon. 
Dear, dear 1 a hodd child she was, so silent in 
her ways and all, but I was wonderful taken 
up with her, so domesticated she was — sur- 

*And what about the little boy?' said 

*Ah, that pore boyl' sighed Mrs. Bunch. 
* He were a foreigner — Jevanny he called his- 
self — and he come a-tweaking his 'urdy-gurdy 
round and about the drive one winter day, and 
master 'ad him in that minute, and ast all 
about where he came from, and how old he 
was, and how he made his way, and where was 
his relatives, and all as kind as heart could 
wish. But it went the same way with him. 
They're a hunruly lot, them foreign nations, I 
do suppose, and he was off one fine morning 
just the same as the girl. Why he went 
and what he done was our question for as 
much as a year after ; for he never took 


his 'urdy-gurdy, and there it lays on the 

The remainder of the evening was spent by 
Stephen in miscellaneous cross-examination of 
Mrs. Bunch and in efforts to extract a tune 
from the hurdy-gurdy. 

That night he had a curious dream. At the 
end of the passage at the top of the house, in 
which his bedroom was situated, there was an 
old disused bathroom. It was kept locked, 
but the upper half of the door was glazed, and, 
since the muslin curtains which used to hang 
there had long been gone, you could look in 
and see the lead-lined bath affixed to the wall 
on the right hand, with its head towards the 

On the night of which I am speaking, 
Stephen Elliott found himself, as he thought, 
looking through the glazed door. The moon 
was shining through the window, and he was 
gazmg at a figure which lay in the bath. 

His description of what he saw reminds me 
of what I once beheld myself in the famous 
vaults of St. Michan's Church in Dublin, which 


possess the horrid property of preserving corpses 
from decay for centuries. A figure inex- 
pressibly thin and pathetic, of a dusty leaden 
colour, enveloped in a shroud-like garment, 
the thin lips crooked into a faint and dreadful 
smile, the hands pressed tightly over the region 
of the heart. 

As he looked upon it, a distant, almost 
inaudible moan seemed to issue from its lips, 
and the arms began to stir. The terror of the 
sight forced Stephen backwards, and he awoke 
to the fact that he was indeed standing on the 
cold boarded floor of the passage in the fiill 
light of the moon. With a coiu'age which I 
do not think can be common among boys of 
his age, he went to the door of the bathroom 
to ascertain if the figure of his dream were 
really there. It was not, and he went back 
to bed. 

Mrs. Bunch was much impressed next morn- 
ing by his story, and went so far as to replace 
the muslin curtain over the glazed door of the 
bathroom. Mr. Abney, moreover, to whom 
he confided his experiences at breakfast, was. 


greatly interested, and made notes of the 
matter in what he called * his book.' 

The spring equinox was approaching, as 
Mr. Al4 L^enUy rendndS hi, din. 
adding that this had been always considered 
by the ancients to be a critical time for 
the young: that Stephen would do well to 
take care of himself, and to shut his bedroom 
window at night ; and that Censorinus had 
some valuable remarks on the subject. Two 
incidents that occurred about this time made 
an impression upon Stephen's mind. 

The first was after an unusually uneasy and 
oppressed night that he had passed — ^though 
he could not recall any particular dream that 
he had had. 

The following evening Mrs. Bunch was 
occupying herself in mending his nightgown. 

* Gracious me. Master Stephen !' she broke 
forth rather irritably, *how do you manage 
to tear your nightdress all to flinders this 
way? Look here, sir, what trouble you do 
give to poor servants that have to dam and 
mend after you !' 


There was indeed a most destructive and 
apparently wanton series of slits or scorings in 
the garment, which would undoubtedly require 
a skilful needle to make good. They were 
confined to the left side of the chest — ^long, 
parallel slits, about six inches in length, some 
of them not quite piercing the texture of the 
linen. Stephen could only express his entire 
ignorance of their origin : he was sure they 
were not there the night before. 

* But,' he said, * Mrs. Bunch, they are just 
the same as the scratches on the outside of 
my bedroom door ; and I'm sure I never had 
anything to do with making them' 

Mrs. Bunch gazed at him open-mouthed, 
then snatched up a candle, departed hastily 
from the room, and was heard making her way 
upstairs. In a few minutes she came down. 

*Well,' she said, * Master Stephen, it's a 
funny thing to me how them marks and 
scratches can 'a' come there — too high up for 
any cat or dog to 'ave made 'em, much less a 
rat : for all the world like a Chinaman's finger- 
nails, as my uncle in the tea-trade used to tell 


us of when we was girls together. I wouldn't 
say nothing to master, not if I was you, 
Master Stephen, my dear ; and just turn the 
key of the door when you go to your bed.' 

* I always do, Mrs. Bunch, as soon as I've 
said my prayers.' 

* Ah, that's a good child : always say your 
prayers, and then no one can't hurt you.' 

Herewith Mrs. Bunch addressed herself to 
mending the injured nightgown, with intervals 
of meditation, until bed-time. This was on a 
Friday night in March, 1812. 

On the following evening the usual duet of 
Stephen and Mrs. Bunch was augmented by 
the sudden arrival of Mr. Parkes, the butler, 
who as a rule kept himself rather to himself 
in his own pantry. He did not see that 
Stephen was there : he was, moreover, flus- 
tered and less slow of speech than was his 

* Master may get up his own wme, if he 
likes, of an evening,' was his first remark. 
* Either I do it in the daytime or not at all, 
Mrs. Bunch. I don't know what it may be : 


very like it's the rats, or the wind got into 
the cellars; but I'm not so young as I was, 
and I can't go through with it as I have done.' 

*Well, Mr. Parkes, you know it. is a sur- 
prising place for the rats, is the Hall.' 

*l'm not denying that, Mrs. Bunch; and, 
to be sure, many a time I've heard the tale 
from the men in the shipyards about the rat 
that could speak. I never laid no confidence 
in that before ; but to-night, if I'd demeaned 
myself to lay my ear to the door of the further 
bin, I could pretty much have heard what 
they was saying.' 

' Oh, there, Mr. Parkes, I've no patience 
with your fancies ! Rats talking in the wine- 
ceUar indeed !' 

*Well, Mrs. Bunch, I've no wish to argue 
with you : all I say is, if you choose to go 
to the far bin, and lay your ear to the door, 
you may prove my words this minute.' 

* What nonsense you do talk, Mr. Parkes 
— not fit for children to listen to ! Why, 
you'll be frightening Master Stephen there 
out of his wits.' 


* What I Master Stephen V said Parkes, 
awaking to the consciousness of the boy's 
presence. * Master Stephen knows well enough 
when I'm a-playing a joke with you, Mrs. 

In fact, Master Stephen knew much too 
well to suppose that Mr. Parkes had in the 
first instance intended a joke. He was 
interested, not altogether pleasantly, in the 
situation; but all his questions were unsuc- 
cessful in inducing the butler to give any 
more detailed account of his experiences in 
the wine-cellar. 

We have now arrived at March 24, 1812. 
It was a day of cvuious experiences for 
Stephen : a windy, noisy day, which filled the 
house and the gardens with a restless im- 
pression. As Stephen stood by the fence of 
the grounds, and looked out into the park, he 
felt as if an endless procession of unseen people 
were sweeping past him on the wind, borne on 
resistlessly and aimlessly, vainly striving to 
stop themselves, to catch at something that 



might arrest their flight and bring them once 
again into contact with the living world of 
which they had formed a part. After luncheon 
that day Mr. Abney said : 

* Stephen, my boy, do you think you could 
manage to come to me to-night as late as 
eleven o'clock in my study ? I shall be busy 
until that time, and I wish to show you some- - 
thing connected with yovir ftiture life which it 
is most important that you should know. You 
are not to mention this matter to Mrs. Bunch 
nor to anyone else in the house; and you 
had better go to your room at the usual 

Here was a new excitement added to life : 
Stephen eagerly grasped at the opportunity of 
sitting up till eleven o'clock. He looked in at 
the library door on his way upstairs that even- 
ing, and saw a brazier, which he had often 
noticed in the comer of the room, moved out 
before the fire ; an old silver-gilt cup stood on 
the table, filled with red wine, and some written 
sheets of paper lay near it. Mr. Abney was 
sprinkling some incense on the brazier from 


a round silver box as Stephen passed, but did 
not seem to notice his step. 

The wind had fallen, and there was a still 
night and a full moon. At about ten o'clock 
Stephen was standing at the open window of 
his bedroom, looking out over the country. Still 
as the night was, the mysterious population of 
the distant moonlit woods was not yet lulled 
to rest. From time to time strange cries as of 
lost and despairing wanderers sounded from 
across the mere. They might be the notes of 
owls or water-birds, yet they did not quite 
resemble either sound. Were not they coming 
nearer? Now they sounded from the nearer 
side of the water, and in a few moments they 
seemed to be floating about among the shrub- 
beries. Then they ceased ; but just as Stephen 
was thinking of shutting the window and re- 
suming his reading of * Robinson Crusoe,' he 
caught sight of two figures standing on the 
gravelled terrace that ran along the garden 
side of the Hall — ^the figures of a boy and 
girl, as it seemed; they stood side by side, 
looking up at the windows. Something in 


the form of the girl recalled uresistibly his 
dream of the figure in the bath. The boy 
inspired him with more acute fear. 

Whilst the girl stood still, half smiling, with 
her hands clasped over her heart, the boy, a 
thin shape, with black hair and ragged cloth- 
ing, raised his arms in the air with an appear- 
ance of menace and of unappeasable hunger 
and longing. The moon shone upon his 
almost transparent hands, and Stephen saw 
that the nails were fearfiiUy long and that the 
light shone through them. As he stood with 
his arms thus raised, he disclosed a terrifying 
spectacle. On the left side of his chest there 
opened a black and gaping rent; and there 
fell upon Stephen's brain, rather than upon his 
ear, the impression of one of those hungry and 
desolate cries that he had heard resounding 
over the woods of Aswarby all that evening. 
In another moment this dreadful pair had 
moved swiftly and noiselessly over the dry 
gravel, and he saw them no more. 

Inexpressibly frightened as he was, he deter- 
mined to take his candle and go down to 


Mr. Abney's study, for the hour appointed for 
their meeting was near at hand. The study 
or library opened out of the front-hall on one 
side, and Stephen, urged on by his terrors, did 
not take long in getting there. To effect an 
entrance was not so easy. It was not locked, 
he felt sure, for the key was on the outside of 
the door as usual. His repeated knocks pro- 
duced no answer. Mr. Abney was engaged : 
he was speaking. What ! why did he try to 
cry out ? and why was the cry choked in his 
throat ? Had he, too, seen the mysterious 
children? But now everything was quiet, 
and the door yielded to Stephen's terrified 
and frantic pushing. 

4U ^ ^ M, ^ 

TT *1r It tp tt 

On the table in Mr. Abney's study certain 
papers were found which explained the situa- 
tion to Stephen Elliott when he was of an age 
to understand them. The most important 
sentences were as follows : 

* It was a belief very strongly and generally 
held by the ancients — of whose wisdom in 
these matters I have had such experience as 



induces me to place confidence in their asser-fl 
tions — that by enacting certain processes, which^ 
to us moderns have something of a barbaric 
complexion, a very remarkable enhghtenment of 
the spiritual faculties in man may be attained ; 
that, for example, by absorbing the personalities 
of a certain number of his fellow-creatures, an 
individual may gain a complete ascendancy 
over those orders of spiritual beings wliieh 
control the elemental forces of our universe. 
' It is recorded of Simon Magus that he ■( 
able to fly in the air, to become invisible, or t 
assume any form he pleased, by the agency o^ 
the soul of a boy whom, to use the libellous™ 
phrase employed by the author of the " Clemen-j 
tine Recognitions," he had "murdered." I ' 
find it set down, moreover, with considerable 
detail in the writings of Hermes Trismegistus, 
that similar happy results may be produced by 
the absorption of the hearts of not less tha] 
three human beings below the age of twenty-J 
one years. To the testing of the truth of this! 
receipt I have devoted the gi-eater part of the,! 
last twenty years, selecting as the corpora viltaM 


of my experiment such persons as could con- 
veniently be removed without occasioning a 
sensible gap in society* The first step I 
effected by the removal of one Phoebe Stanley, 
a girl of gipsy extraction, on March 24, 1792. 
The second, by the removal of a wandering 
Italian lad, named Giovanni Paoli, on the 
night of March 28, 1805. The final " victim '' 
— to employ a word repugnant in the highest 
degree to my feelings — ^must be my cousin, 
Stephen Elliott. His day must be this March 
24, 1812. 

*The best means of effecting the required 
absorption is to remove the heart from the 
living subject, to reduce it to ashes, and to 
mingle them with about a pint of some red 
wine, preferably port. The remains of the 
first two subjects, at least, it will be well to 
conceal : a disused bath-room or wine-cellar 
will be found convenient for such a purpose. 
Some annoyance may be experienced from the 
psychic portion of the subjects, which popular 
language dignifies with the name of ghosts. 
But the man of philosophic temperamient — ^to 



whom alone the experiment is appropriate- 
will be little prone to attach importance to the' 
feeble efforts of these beings to wreak their 
vengeance on him. I contemplate with the 
liveUest satisfaction the enlarged and emanciH 
pated existence which the experiment, if sue- * 
cessftil, will confer on me; not only placing 
me beyond the reach of human justice (so- 
called), but eliminating to a great extent the ' 
prospect of death itself.' 


: the^J 


Mr. Abney was fomid in his chah-, his hei 
thrown back, his face stamped with an expres-l 
sion of rage, fright, and mortal pain. In his 
left side was a terrible lacerated wound, ex- 
posing the heart. There was no blood on his 
hands, and a long knife that lay on the table 
was perfectly clean. A savage wild-cat might 
have inflicted the injuries. The window of 
the study was open, and it was the opinion of 
the coroner that Mr. Abney had met his death 
by the agency of some wild creature. But 
Stephen Elliott's study of the papers I have 
quoted led him to a very different conclusion. 



Some time ago I believe I had the pleasure 
of telling you the story of an adventure which 
happened to a friend of mine by the name of 
Dennistoun, during his pursuit of objects of 
art for the museum at Cambridge. 

He did not pubUsh his experiences very 
widely upon his return to England ; but they 
could not fail to become known to a good many 
of his friends, and among others to the gentle- 
man who at that time presided over an art 
museum at another University. It was to be 
expected that the story should make a con- 
siderable impression on the mind of a man 
whose vocation lay in lines similar to Dennis- 
toun's, and that he should be eager to catch at 
any explanation of the matter which tended to 
make it seem improbable that he should ever 



be called upon to deal with so agitating 
emergency. It was,indeed, somewhat consoUi 
to him to reflect that he was not expected to 
apquire ancient MSS. for his institution ; that 
was the business of the Shelburnian Library. 
The authorities of that institution might, if 
they pleased, ransack obscure corners of the 
Continent for such matters. He was glad to ■ 
be obKged at the moment to confine his atten- 
tion to enlarging the already unsurpassed 
collection of English topograpliieal drawings 
and engravmgs possessed by his museum. Yet, 
as it turned out, even a department so homely 
and fam^iliar as this may have its dark cornei 
and to one of these Mr. Williams was 
expectedly introduced. 

Those who have taken even the most 
limited interest in the acquisition of topo- 
gxaphical pictures are aware that there is one 
London dealer whose aid is indispensable to 
their researches. Mr. J. W. Britnell publishes 
at short intervals very admirable catalogues 
of a large and constantly changing stock of, 
engravings, plans, and old sketches of 

t'et, 1 


lost ^H 
)po- ^\ 


sions, churches, and towns in England and 
Wales. These catalogues were, of course, the 
ABC of his subject to Mr. Williams : but as 
his museum already contained an enormous 
accumulation of topographical pictures, he was 
a regular, rather than a copious, buyer ; and he 
rather looked to Mr. Britnell to fill up gaps 
in the rank and file of his collection than to 
supply him with rarities. 

Now, in February of last year there appeared 
upon Mr. Williams' desk at the museum a 
catalogue ^m Mr. Britnell's emporium, and 
accompanying it was a typewritten communi- 
cation fix)m the dealer hhnself. This latter ran 
as follows : 

^Dear Sir, 

*We beg to call your attention to 
No. 978 in our accompanying catalogue, which 
we shall be glad to send on approval. 

* Yours faithfully, 

*J. W. Britnell.' 

To tiuii to No. 978 in the accompanjdng 


catalogue was with Mr. Williams (as he 
served to himself) the work of a moment, 
in the place indicated he found the follo' 

' 978. — Unknown. Interesting mezzotint: 
View of a manor-house, early part of th< 
century. 15 by 10 inches ; black frame. £2 2s,' 

It was not specially exciting, and the price 
seemed high. However, as Mr. BritneU, who 
knew his business and his customer, seemed to 
set store by it, Mr. Williams wrote a postcard 
asking for the article to be sent on approval, 
along with some other engravings and sketches 
which appeared in the same catalogue. And 
so he passed without much excitement of 
anticipation to the ordinary labours of the day, 

A parcel of any kind always arrives a dai 
later than you expect it, and that of Mr. ■" 
Britnell proved, as I believe the right phrase 
goes, no exception to the rule. It was delivered 
at the museum by the afternoon post of 
Saturday, after Mr. WiUiams had left his 
work, and it was accordingly brought round 
his rooms in college by the attendant, in oi 



that he might not have to wait over Sunday 
before looking through it and returning such 
of the contents as he did not propose to keep. 
And here he found it when he came in to tea, 
with a friend. 

The only item with which I am concerned 
was the rather large, black-framed mezzotint 
of which I have already quoted the short 
description given in Mr. Britnell's catalogue. 
Some more details of it will. have to be given, 
though I cannot hope to put before you the 
look of the picture as clearly as it is present to 
my own eye. Very nearly the exact duplicate 
of it may be seen in a good many old inn 
parlours, or in the passages of undisturbed 
country mansions at the present moment. It 
was a rather indifferent mezzotint, and an 
indifferent mezzotint is, perhaps, the worst 
form of engraving known. It presented a 
fuU-face view of a not very large manor- 
house of the last century, with three rows of 
plain sashed windows with rusticated masonry 
about them, a parapet with balls or vases at 
the angles, and a small portico in the centre. 


On either side were trees, and in front a 
considerable expanse of lawn. The legend 
* A. W. F. sculpsit ' was engraved on the narrow 
margin ; and there was no further inscription. 
The whole thing gave the impression that it 
was the work of an amateur. What in the 
world Mr. Britnell could mean by affixing the 
price of £2 2s. to such an object was more 
than Mr. Williams could imagine. He turned 
it over with a good deal of contempt ; upon 
the back was a paper label, the left-hand half 
of which had been torn off. All that remained 
were the ends of two lines of writing : the first 
had the letters — ngley Hall; the second, 
— ssex. 

It would, perhaps, be just worth while to 
identify the place represented, which he could 
easily do with the help of a gazetteer, and 
then he would send it back to Mr. Britnell, 
with some remarks reflecting upon the judg- 
ment of that gentleman. 

He lighted the candles, for it was now dark, 
made the tea, and supplied the friend with 
whom he had been playing golf (for I believe 


the authorities of the University I TiTite of 
indulge in that pursuit by way of relaxation) ; 
and tea was taken to the accompaniment of a 
discussion which golfing persons can imagine 
for themselves, but which the conscientious 
writer has no right to inflict upon any non- 
golfing persons. 

The conclusion arrived at was that certain 
strokes might have been better, and that in 
certain emergencies neither player had experi- 
enced that amount of luck which a human 
being has a right to expect. It was now 
that the friend — let us call him Professor 
Binks — took up the framed engraving, and 

* What's this place, Williams V 

* Just what 1 am going to try to find out,' 
said Williams, going to the shelf for a 
gazetteer. * Look at the back. Something- 
ley Hall, either in Sussex or Essex. Half 
the name's gone, you see. You don't happen 
to know it, I suppose V 

* It's from that man Britnell, I suppose, 
isn't it V said Binks. * Is it for the museum ? 


* Well, I think I should buy it if the price 
was five shillings/ said Williams; *but for 
some unearthly reason he wants two guineas 
for it. I can't conceive why. It's a wretched 
engraving, and there aren't even any figures to 
give it life.' 

•' It's not worth two guineas, I should think,' 
said Biriks ; * but I don't think it's so badly 
done. The moonlight seems rather good to 
me ; and I should have thought there were 
figures, or at least a figure, just on the edge in 

^ Let's look,' said WiUiams. ^WeU, it's 
true the light is rather cleverly given. Where's 
your figure ? Oh yes ! Just the head, in the 
very fi"ont of the picture.' 

And indeed there was — hardly more than a 
black blot on the extreme edge of the en- 
graving — the head of a man or woman, a good 
deal muffled up, the back turned to the spec- 
tator, and looking towards the house. 

Williams had not noticed it before. 

' Still,' he said, ' though it's a cleverer thing 
than I thought, I can't spend two guineas of 


museum money on a picture of a place I don't 

Professor Binks had his work to do, and soon 
went ; and very nearly up to Hall time Williams 
was engaged in a vain attempt to identify the 
subject of his picture. * If the vowel before the 
ng had only been left, it would have been easy 
enough,' he thought ; * but as it is, the name 
may be anything from Guestingley to Langley, 
and there are many more names ending like 
this than I thought ; and this rotten book has 
no index of terminations.' 

Hall in Mr. WiUiams's college was at seven. 
It need not be dwelt upon ; the less so as he 
met there colleagues who had been playing 
golf during the afternoon, and words with 
which we have no concern were freely bandied 
across the table — merely golfing words, I 
would hasten to explain. 

I suppose an hour or more to have been 
spent in what is called common-room after 
dinner. Later in the evening some few retired 
to Williams's room, and I have little doubt 
that whist was played and tobacco smoked. 


During a lull in these operations Williams 
picked up the mezzotint from the table without 
looking at it, and handed it to a person mildly- 
interested in art, telling him where it had 
come from, and the other particulars which 
we already know. 

The gentleman took it carelessly, looked at 
it, then said, in a tone of some interest : 

*It's really a very good piece of work, 
WiUiams ; it has quite a feeling of the romantic 
period. The light is admirably managed, it 
seems to me, and the figure, though it's rather 
too grotesque, is somehow very impressive/ 

* Yes, isn't it ?' said Williams, who was just 
then busy giving whisky-and-soda to others 
of the company, and was unable to come 
across the room to look at the view again. 

It was by this time rather late in the even- 
ing, and the visitors were on the move. After 
they went Williams was obliged to write a 
letter or two and clear up some odd bits of 
work. At last, some time past midnight, he 
was disposed to turn in, and he put out his 
lamp after lighting his bedroom candle. The 


picture lay face upwards on the table where 
the last man who looked at it had put it, and 
it caught his eye as he turned the lamp down. 
What he saw made him very nearly drop the 
candle on the floor, and he declares now that 
if he had been left in the dark at that moment 
he would have had a fit But, as that did 
not happen, he was able to put down the light 
on the table and take a good look at the 
picture. It was indubitable — rankly impos- 
sible, no doubt, but absolutely certain. In the 
middle of the lawn in front of the unknown 
house there was a figure where no figure had 
been at five o'clock that afternoon. It was 
crawling on all-fours towards the house, and it 
was mufiled in a strange black garment with a 
white cross on the back. 

I do not know what is the ideal course to 
pursue in a situation of this kind. I can only 
tell you what Mr. Williams did. He took 
the picture by one corner and carried it across 
the passage to a second set of rooms which he 
possessed. There he locked it up in a drawer, 
sported the doors of both sets of rooms, and 



retired to bed; but first he wrote out and 
signed an account of the extraordinary change 
which the picture had undergone since it had 
come into his possession. 

Sleep visited him rather late; but it was 
consoling to reflect that the behaviour of the 
picture did not depend upon his own unsup- 
ported testimony. Evidently the man who 
had looked at it the night before had seen 
something of the same kind as he had, other- 
wise he might have been tempted to think 
that something gravely wrong was happening 
either to his eyes or his mind. This possibility 
being fortunately precluded, two matters 
awaited him on the morrow. He must take 
stock of the picture very carefully, and call in 
a witness for the piupose, and he must make 
a determined effort to ascertain what house 
it was that was represented. He would there- 
fore ask his neighbour Nisbet to breakfast 
with him, and he would subsequently spend a 
morning over the gazetteer. 

Nisbet was disengaged, and arrived about 
9.80. His host was not quite dressed, I am 


sorry to say, even at this late hour. During 
breakfast nothing was said about the mezzo- 
tint by Williams, save that he had a picttu% 
on wMoh he wished for Nisbefs opinio,^ But 
those who are familiar with University life 
can picture for themselves the wide and delight- 
ful range of subjects over which the conversa- 
tion of two Fellows of Canterbury College is 
likely to extend during a Sunday morning 
breakfast Hardly a topic was left un- 
challenged, from golf to lawn-tennis. Yet 1 
am bound to say that Williams was rather 
distraught; for his interest naturally centred 
in that very strange picture which was now 
reposing, face downwards, m the drawer in the 
room opposite. 

The morning pipe was at last lighted, and 
the moment had arrived for which he looked. 
With very considerable — ^almost tremulous — 
excitement, he ran across, unlocked the drawer, 
and, extracting the picture — still face down- 
wards — ^ran back, and put it into Nisbet's 

* Now,' he said, * Nisbet, I want you to tell 



me exactly what you see in that picture. 
Describe it, if you don't mind, rather minutely. 
I'll tell you why afterwards.' 

* Well,' said Nisbet, * I have here a view of 
a country-house — English, I presume — by 

^Moonlight? You're sure of that ?' 

* Certainly. The moon appears to be on the 
wane, if you wish for details, and there are 
clouds in the sky.' 

*A11 right. Go on. Ill swear,' added 
WiUiams in an aside, Hhere was no moon 
when I saw it first.' 

* Well, there's not much more to be said,' 
Nisbet continued. * The house has one — ^two 
— ^three rows of windows, five in each row, 
except at the bottom, where there's a porch 
instead of the middle one, and ' 

*But what about figures?' said WiUiams, 
with marked interest. 

* There aren't any,' said Nisbet ; * but ' 

* What I No figure on the grass in fi^ont V 

* Not a thing.' 

* You'll swear to that ?' 


* Certainly I will. But there's just one 
other thing/ 

' Wliat r 

* Why, one of the windows on the ground- 
floor — left of the door — is open.' 

* Is it really so ? My goodness ! he must 
have got in,' said WiUiams, with great excite- 
ment ; and he hurried to the back of the sofa 
on which Nisbet was sitting, and, catching the 
picture from him, verified the matter for him- 

It was quite true. There was no figure, and 
there was the open window. Williams, after 
a moment of speechless surprise, went to the 
writing-table and scribbled for a short time. 
Then he brought two papers to Nisbet, and 
asked him first to sign one — it was his own 
description of the picture, which you have just 
heard — and then to read the other, which was 
WiUiams's statement written the night before. 

' What can it all mean V said Nisbet. 

* Exactly,' said Williams. * Well, one thing 
I must do — or three things, now I think of it. 
I must find out from Garwood ' — this was his 


last night's visitor — *what he saw, and then 
I must get the thing photographed before it 
goes further, and then I must find out what 
the place is.' 

* I can do the photographing myself,' said 
Nisbet, * and I will. But, you know, it looks 
very much as if we were assisting at the work- 
ing out of a tragedy somewhere. The ques- 
tion is. Has it happened already, or is it going 
to come off? You must find out what the 
place is. Yes,' he said, looking at the picture 
again, * I expect you're right : he has got in. 
And if I don't mistake therell be the devil to 
pay in one of the rooms upstairs.' 

' I'll tell you what,' said Williams : ' I'll take 
the picture across to old Green ' (this was the 
senior Fellow of the College, who had been 
Bursar for many years). * It's quite likely he'll 
know it. We have property in Essex and 
Sussex, and he must have been over the two 
counties a lot in his time.' 

* Quite likely he will,' said Nisbet ; * but 
just let me take my photograph first. But 
look here, I rather think Green isn't up to-day. 


He wasn't in Hall last night, and I think I 
heard him say he was going down for the 

* That's true, too,' said Williams ; * I know 
he's gone to Brighton. Well, if you'll photo- 
graph it now, I'll go across to Garwood and 
get his statement, and you keep an eye on it 
while I'm gone. I'm beghming to think two 
guineas is not a very exorbitant price for 
it now.' 

In a short time he had returned, and 
brought Mr. Garwood with him. Garwood's 
statement was to the effect that the figure, 
when he had seen it, was clear of the edge of 
the picture, but had not got far across the 
lawn. He remembered a white mark on the 
back of its drapery, but could not have been 
sure it was a cross. A document to this effect 
was then drawn up and signed, and Nisbet 
proceeded to photograph the picture. 

*Now what do you mean to do?' he said. 
* Are you going to sit and watch it all day ?' 

* Well, noi I think not,' said WiUiams. * I 
rather imagine we're meant to see the whole 


thing. You see, between the tune I saw it 
last night and this mommg there was time 
for lots of things to happen, but the creature 
only got into the house. It could easily have 
got through its business in the time and gone 
to its own place again ; but the fact of 
the window being open, I think, must mean 
that it's in there now. So I feel quite easy 
about leaving it. And, besides, I have a 
kind of idea that it wouldn't change much, if 
at all, in the daytime. We might go out for 
a walk this afternoon, and come in to tea, or 
whenever it gets dark. I shall leave it out on 
the table here, and sport the door. My skip 
can get in, but no one else.' 

The three agreed that this would be a good 
plan ; and, further, that if they spent the 
afternoon together they would be less likely 
to talk about the business to other people ; 
for any rumour of such a transaction as was 
going on would bring the whole of the Phas- 
matological Society about their ears. 

We may give them a respite until five 


At or near that hour the three were enter- 
ing Williams's staircase. They were at first 
slightly annoyed to see that the door of his 
rooms was misported ; but in a moment it was 
remembered that on Smiday the skips came 
for orders an hour or so earlier than on week- 
days. However, a surprise was awaiting 
them. The first thing they saw was the 
picture leaning up against a pile of books on 
the table, as it had been left, and the next 
thing was Williams's skip, seated on a chair 
opposite, gazing at it with undisguised hoiTor. 
How was this ? Mr. Filcher (the name is not 
my own invention) was a servant of consider- 
able standing, and set the standard of etiquette 
to all his own college and to several neigh- 
bouring ones, and nothing could be more alien 
to his practice than to be found sitting on his 
master's chair, or appearing to take any 
particular notice of his master's fiimiture or 
pictures. Indeed, he seemed to feel this him- 
self. He started violently when the three 
men were in the room, and got up with a 
marked eflfort. Then he said : 


^I ask your pardon, sbr, for taking such a 
freedom as to set down.' 

* Not at all, Robert,* interposed Mr. Williams. 
^ I was meaning to ask you some time what 
you thought of that picture.' 

'Well, sir, of course I don't set up my 
opinion again yours, but it ain't the . pictur I 
should 'ang where my little girl could see it, sir.' 

' Wouldn't you, Robert ? Why not ?' 

* No, sir. Why, the pore child, I recollect 
once she see a Door Bible, with pictures not 'alf 
what that is, and we 'ad to set up with her 
three or four nights afterwards, if youll believe 
me ; and if she was to ketch a sight of this 
skelinton here, or whatever it is, carrying off 
the pore baby, she would be in a taking. 
You know 'ow it is with children ; 'ow nervish 
they git with a little thing and all. But what I 
should say, it don't seem a right pictur to be 
laying about, sir, not where anyone that's 
liable to be startled could come on it. Should 
you be wanting anything this evening, sir ? 
Thank you, sir.' 

With these words the excellent man went 

to omtmue the lamid of Iik ■■i*Ufiv and ytn 
may be sme the gmflrmm wliam he left 
lost no time in gatibediig laand the d^nving: 
There was the house, as befixe. under the 
waning mom and the driftiDg doods^ The 

window that had been open was shot, and the 
figure was <mce mcxe en the lawn : but not tins 
time crawling cautiously on hands and knees. 
Now it was exect and st^pmg swiftly , with 
IcHig strides, towards the front of the pctme. 
The nKX>n was bdiind it, and the Uaek drapery 
hung down OTcr its fece so that only hints of 
that could be seen, and what was visible made 
the spectators profoundly thankful that they 
could see no mcxe than a wiiite d<»ie-like 
forehead and a few stragghng hairs. The 
head was bent down, and the arms were tig^y 
clasped over an object wiiidi could be dimly 
seen and identified as a diild, whether dead or 
living it was not possible to say. The lega of 
the appearance alcme could be plainly discerned, 
and they were horribly thin. 

From five to seven the three companions 
sat and watched the picture by turns. But 


it never changed. They agreed at last that 
it would be safe to leave it, and that they 
would return after Hall and await further 

When they assembled again, at the earliest 
possible moment, the engraving was there, 
but the figure was gone, and the house was 
quiet under the moonbeams. There was 
nothing for it but to spend the evening over 
gazetteers and guide-books. Williams was 
the lucky one at last, and perhaps he deserved 
it. At 11.80 p.m. he read from Murray's 
Guide to Essex the following lines : 

*16^ miles, Anningley. The church has 
been an interesting building of Norman date, 
but was extensively classicized in the last 
century. It contains the tomb of the family 
of Francis, whose mansion, Anningley Hall, 
a solid Queen Anne house, stands immediately 
beyond the . churchyard in a park of about 
80 acres. The family is now extinct, the last 
heir having disappeared mysteriously in infancy 
in the year 1802. The father, Mr. Arthur 
Francis, was locally known as a talented 


amateur engraver in mezzotint. After his 
son's disappearance he lived in complete re- 
tirement at the Hall, and was found dead in 
his studio on the third anniversary of the 
disaster, having just completed an engraving 
of the house, impressions of which are of 
considerable rarity.' 

This looked like business, and, indeed, Mr. 
Green on his return at once identified the 
house as Anningley Hall. 

* Is there any kind of explanation of the 
figure. Green?' was the question which WiUiams 
naturally asked. 

* I don't know, I'm sure, WiUiams. What 
used to be said in the place when I first knew 
it, which was before I came up here, was just 
this : old Francis was always very much 
down on these poaching fellows, and whenever 
he got a chance he used to get a man whom 
he suspected of it turned off the estate, and 
by degrees he got rid of them all but one. 
Squires could do a lot of things then that 
they daren't think of now. Well, this man 
that was left was what you find pretty often 


in that country — ^the last remains of a very 
old family. I believe they were Lords of 
the Manor at one time. 1 recollect just the 
same thing in my own parish.' 

*What, like the man in Tess o' the Dur- 
berviUes ? Williams put in. 

' Yes, I dare say ; it's not a book I could 
ever read myself. But this fellow could show 
a row of tombs in the church there that be- 
longed to his ancestors, and all that went to sour 
him a bit ; but Francis, they said, could never 
get at him — ^he always kept just on the right 
side of the law— until one night the keepers 
found him at it in a wood right at the end of 
the estate. I could show you the place now ; 
it marches with some land that used to belong 
to an uncle of mine. And you can imagine 
there was a row ; and this man Gawdy (that 
was the name, to be sure — Gawdy ; I thought 
I should get it — Gawdy), he was unlucky 
enough, poor chap 1 to shoot a keeper. Well, 
that was what Francis wanted, and grand 
juries — ^you know what they would have been 
then — and poor Gawdy was strung up in 




double-quick time; and I've been shown the 
place he was buried in, on the north side of 
the church — you know the way in that part of 
the world : anyone that's been hanged or made 
away with themselves, they bury them that 
side. And the idea that there was some friend 
of Gawdy's — not a relation, because he had 
none, poor devil ! he was the last of his line : 
kind of spes ulthna gentis — must have planned 
to get hold of Francis's boy and put an end to 
his line, too. I don't know — it's rather an 
out-of-the-way thing for an Essex poacher to 
think of— but, you know, I should say now it 
looks more as if old Gawdy had managed 
the job himself. Booh ! I hate to think of it 1 
have some whisky, WiUiams !' 

The facts were communicated by WiUiams 
to Dennistoim, and by him to a mixed com- 
pany, of which I was one, and the Sadducean 
Professor of Ophiology another. I am sorry 
to say that the latter, when asked what he 
thought of it, only remarked: *Oh, those 
Bridgeford people will say anything'— a senti- 
ment which met with the reception it deserved 



I have only to add that the picture is 
now in the Ashleian Museum ; that it has been 
treated with a view to discovering whether 
sjrmpathetic ink has been used in it, but with- 
out effect; that Mr. Britnell knew nothing 
of it save that he was sure it was uncommon ; 
and that, though carefidly watched, it has 
never been known to change again. 


81 6 


Everyone who has travelled over Eastern 
England knows the smaller country-houses 
with which it is studded — ^the rather dank little 
buildings, usually in the Italian style, sur- 
rounded with parks of some eighty to a hun- 
dred acres. For me they have always had a 
very strong attraction: with the gray paling 
of split oak, the noble trees, the meres with 
their reed - beds, and the line of distant 
woods. Then, I like the pillared portico — 
perhaps stuck on to a red-brick Queen Anne 
house which has been faced with stucco to 
bring it into line with the * Grecian ' taste of 
the end of the eighteenth century; the hall 
inside, going up to the roof, which hall ought 
always to be provided with a gallery and a 
small organ. I like the library, too, where 

83 6—2 


you may find anything fi-om a Psalter < 
thirteenth century to a Shakespeare quarta J 
I like the pictures, of course ; and perhaps 
most of all I like fancying what life in such a 
house was when it was first built, and in the 
piping times of landlords' prosperity, and not 
least now. when, if money is not so plentiful, 
taste is more varied and life quite as interest- 
ing. I wish to have one of these houses, and 
enough money to keep it together and enter- 
tain my friends in it modestly. 

But this is a digression. I have to tell you 
of a curious series of events which happened 
in such a house as I have tried to describe. 
It is Castringham Hall in Suffolk. I think a 
good deal has been done to the building 
since the period of my story, but the essential 
features I have sketched are still there — 
ItaUan portico, square block of white house, 
older inside than out, park with fringe of 
woods, and mere. The one feature that 
marked out the house from a score of others 
is gone. As you looked at it from the park, 
you saw on the right a great old ash-tree 


growing within half a dozen yards of the wall, 
and almost or quite touching the building 
with its branches. I suppose it had stood 
there ever since Castringham ceased to be a 
fortified place, and since the moat was filled 
in and the Elizabethan dwelling-house built. 
At any rate, it had well-nigh attained its full 
dimensions in the year 1690. 

In that year the district in which the Hall 
is situated was the scene of a number of 
witch-trials. It will be long, I think, before 
we arrive at a just estimate of the amount 
of solid reason — ^if there was any — ^which lay 
at the root of the universal fear of witches in 
old times. Whether the persons accused of 
this offence really did imagine that they were 
possessed of unusual power of any kind; or 
whether they had the will at least, if not the 
power, of doing mischief to their neighbours ; 
or whether all the confessions, of which there 
are so many, were extorted by the mere 
cruelty of the witch-finders— these are ques- 
tions which are not, I fancy, yet solved. And 
the present narrative gives me pause I 


cannot altogether sweep it away as mt 
invention. The reader must judge for hii 

Castringham contributed a victim to th( 
autO'da-fc. Mrs. Mothersole was her name, 
and she differed from the ordinary run of 
village witches only in being rather better ofF 
and in a more influential position. Efforts were 
made to save her by several reputable farmers 
of the parish. They did their best to testify 
to her character, and showed considerable 
anxiety as to the verdict of the jury. 

But wliat seems to have been fatal to 
woman was the evidence of the then pi 
prietor of Castringham Hall — Sir Matthi 
Fell. He deposed to having watched her 
three different occasions from his window, 
the full of the moon, gathering branches ' from 
the ash-tree near ray house.' She had cUmbed 
into the branches, clad only in her shift, and 
was cutting off small twigs with a pecuharlyu 
curved knife, and as she did so she seemed 
be talking to herself. On each occasion Sir 
Matthew had done his best to capture the 


iir ~ 


woman, but she had always taken alarm at 
some accidental noise he had made, and all he 
could see when he got down to the garden was 
a hare running across the path in the direction 
of the village. 

On the third night he had been at the pains 
to follow at his best speed, and had gone 
straight to Mrs. Mothersole's house; but he 
had had to wait a quarter of an hour bat- 
tering at her door, and then she had come 
out very cross, and apparently very sleepy, as 
if just out of bed ; and he had no good 
explanation to offer of his visit. 

Mainly on this evidence, though there was 
much more of a less striking and unusual kind 
from other parishioners, Mrs. Mothersole was 
found guilty and condemned to die. She 
was hanged a week after the trial, with five 
or six more unhappy creatures, at Bury St. 

Sir Matthew Fell, then Deputy-Sheriff, was 
present at the execution. It was a damp, 
drizzly March morning when the cart made 
its way up the rough grass hill outside North- 


gate, where the gallows stood. The other 
victims were apathetic or broken down with 
misery ; but Mrs. Mothersole was, as in life so 
in death, of a very different temper. Her 
^poysonous Rage,' as a reporter of the time 
puts it, * did so work upon the Bystanders — 
yea, even upon the Hangman — ^that it was 
constantly affirmed of all that saw her that 
she presented the living Aspect of a mad 
Divell. Yet she offer'd no Resistance to the 
Officers of the Law ; onely she looked upon 
those that laid Hands upon her with so direfull 
and venomous an Aspect that — as one of them 
afterwards assured me — the meer Thought of 
it preyed inwardly upon his Mind for six 
Months after.' 

However, all that she is reported to have 
said was the seemingly meaningless words: 
* There will be guests at the Hall.' Which 
she repeated more than once in an under- 

Sir Matthew Fell was not unimpressed by 
the bearing of the woman. He had some 
talk upon the matter with the Vicar of his 


parish, with whom he travelled home after the 
assize business was over.. His evidence at the 
trial had not been very willingly given ; he 
was not specially infected with the witch- 
finding mania, but he declared, then and after- 
wards, that he could not give any other accoimt 
of the matter than that he had given, and that 
he could not possibly have been mistaken as 
to what he saw. The whole transaction had 
been repugnant to him, for he was a man who 
liked to be on pleasant terms with those about 
him ; but he saw a duty to be done in this 
business, and he had done it. That seems to 
have been the gist of his sentiments, and the 
Vicar applauded it, as any reasonable man 
must have done. 

A few weeks after, when the moon of May 
was at the full. Vicar and Squire met again in 
the park, and walked to the HaU together. 
Lady Fell was with her mother, who was 
dangerously ill, and Sir Matthew was alone 
at home ; so the Vicar, Mr. Crome, was easily 
persuaded to take a late supper at the Hall. 

Sir Matthew was not very good company 


this evening. The talk ran chiefly on family 
and parish matters, and, as luck would have it. 
Six Matthew made a memorandum in writing 
of certain wishes or intentions of his regarding 
hi. estates, whioh .fterw.^ p«.vea SS . 
ingly useful. 

When Mr. Crome thought of starting for 
home, about half-past nine o'clock. Sir Mat- 
thew and he took a preliminary turn on the 
gravelled walk at the back of the house. The 
only incident that struck Mr. Crome was 
this : they were in sight of the ash-tree which 
1 described as growing near the windows of the 
building, when Sir Matthew stopped and said : 

* What is that that runs up and down the 
stem of the ash ? It is never a squirrel ? 
They will all be in their nests by now.' 

The Vicar looked and saw the moving 
creature, but he could make nothing of its 
colour in the moonlight. The sharp outline, 
however, seen for an instant, was imprinted on 
his brain, and he could have sworn, he said, 
though it sounded foolish, that, squirrel or not, 
it had more than four legs. 


Still, not much was to be made of the 
momentary vision, and the two men parted. 
They may have met since then, but it was not 
for a score of years. 

Next day Sir Matthew Fell was not down- 
stairs at six in the morning, as was his custom, 
nor at seven, nor yet at eight. Hereupon the 
servants went and knocked at his chamber 
door. I need not prolong the description of 
their anxious listenings and renewed batterings 
on the panels. The door was opened at last 
from the outside, and they found their master 
dead and black. So much you have guessed. 
That there were any marks of violence did 
not at the moment appear ; but the window 
was open. 

One of the men went to fetch the parson, 
and then by his directions rode on to give notice 
to the coroner. Mr. Crome himself went as 
quick as he might to the Hall, and was shown 
to the room where the dead man lay. He has 
left some notes among his papers which show 
how genuine a respect and sorrow was felt for 
Sir Matthew, and there is also this passage, 


which I transcribe for the sake of the light itl 
throws upon the course of events, and ; 
upon the common beliefs of the time : 

• There was not any the least Trace of j 
Entrance having been forc'd to the Chamber : 
but the Casement stood open, as my poor 
Friend would always have it in this Season 
He had his Evening Drink of small Ale in i 
silver vessel of about a pint measure, and to- ' 
night had not drunk it out. This Drink was 
examined by the Physician from Bury, a Mr. 
Hodgkins, who could not, however, 
afterwards declar'd upon his Oath, before thej 
Coroner's quest, discover that any matter of i 
venomous kind was present in it. For, as wai 
natural, in the great Swelling and Blackness c 
the Corpse, there was talk made among the 
Neighbours of Poyson. The Body was very 
much Disorder'd as it laid in the Bed, being 
twisted after so extream a sort as gave too_ 
probable Conjecture that my worthy Frien 
and Patron had expir'd in great Pain 
-Agony. And what is as yet unexplain'd, am 
to myself the Argument of some Horrid an^ 

oor ' 


Mr. J 



Artfiill Designe in the Perpetrators of this 
Barbarous Murther, was this, that the Women 
which were entrusted with the laying-out of 
the Corpse and washing it, being bpth sad 
Persons and very well Respected in their 
MoumfuU Profession, came to me in a great 
Pain and Distress both of Mind and Body, 
saying, what was indeed confirmed upon the 
first View, that they had no sooner touched 
the Breast of the Corpse with their naked 
Hands than they were sensible of a more than 
ordinary violent Smart and Acheing in then- 
Pahns, which, with then- whole Forearms, m 
no long time swelled so hnmoderately, the 
Pain still continuing, that, as afterwards 
proved, during many weeks they were forc'd 
to lay by the exercise of their Calling ; and 
yet no mark seen on the Skin. 

* Upon hearing this, I sent for the Physician, 
who was still in the House, and we made as 
carefidl a Proof as we were able by the Help 
of a small Magnifying Lens of Crystal of the 
condition of the Skinn on this Part of the 
Body : but could not detect vnth the Instru- 


ment we had any Matter of Importance beyond 
a couple of small Pmictures or Pricks, which 
we then concluded were the Spotts by which 
the Poyson might be introduced, remembering 
that Ring of Pope Borgia, with other known 
Specimens of the Horrid Art of the Italian 
Poysoners of the last age. 

* So much is to be said of the Sjrmptoms 
seen on the Corpse. As to what I am to add, 
it is meerly my own Experiment, and to be 
left to Posterity to judge whether there be 
an3rthing of Value therein. There was on the 
Table by the Beddside a Bible of the small 
size, in which my Friend — ^punctuall as in 
Matters of less Moment, so in this more 
weighty one — used nightly, and upon his 
First Rising, to read a sett Portion. And I 
taking it up — not without a Tear duly paid 
to him which from the Study of this poorer 
Adumbration was now pass'd to the con- 
templation of its great Originall — ^it came 
into my Thoughts, as at such moments of 
Helplessness we are prone to catch at any the 
least Glimmer that makes promise of Light, to 


make trial of that old and by many accounted 
Superstitious Practice of drawing the Sortes : 
of which a Principall Instance, in the case of 
his late Sacred Majesty the Blessed Martyr 
King Charles and my Lord Falkland, was now 
much talked of. I must needs admit that by 
my Trial not much Assistance was aflforded 
me : yet, as the Cause and Origin of these 
Dreadfull Events may hereafter be search'd 
out, I set down the Results, in the case it 
may be found that they pointed the true 
Quarter of the Mischief to a quicker Intelli- 
gence than my own. 

* I made, then, three trials, opening the Book 
and placing my Finger upon certain Words : 
which gave in the first these words, from 
Luke xiii. 7, Cut it down; in the second, 
Isaiah xiii. 20, It shall never be inhahited; 
and upon the third Experiment, Job xxxix. 80, 
Her young ones also suck up blood.' 

This is all that need be quoted from Mr. 
Crome's papers. Sir Matthew Fell was duly 
coffined and laid into the earth, and his 
funeral sermon, preached by Mr. Crome on the 


following Sunday, has been printed under the 
title of ' The Unsearchable Way ; or, Eng- 
land's Danger and the Malicious Dealings of 
Antichrist.' it being the Vicar's view, as well 
as that most commonly held in the neighbour- 
hood, that the Squire was tlie victim of a 
recrudescence of the Popish Plot. 

His son, Sir Matthew the second, succeeded 
to the title and estates. And so ends the first 
act of the Castringham tragedy. It is to be 
mentioned, though the fact is not surprising, 
that the new Baronet did not occupy the room 
in which his father had died. Nor, indeed, 
was it slept in by anyone but an occasional J 
visitor during the whole of his occupation..« 
He died in 1735, and I do not find that any- 
thing particular marked his reign, save a 
curiously constant mortality among his cattle 
and live-stock in general, which showed 
tendency to increase shghtly as time went on. 

Those who are interested in the details willj 
find a statistical account in a letter to theJ 
Gentlemaii's Magazine of 1772, which draws! 
the facts from the Baronet's own papers. He J 


put an end to it at last by a very simple ex- 
pedient, that of shutting up all his beasts in 
sheds at night, and keeping no sheep in his 
park. For he had noticed that nothing was 
ever attacked that spent the night indoors. 
After that the disorder confined itself to wild 
birds, and beasts of chase. But as we have 
no good account of the symptoms, and as 
all-night watching was quite unproductive of 
any clue, I do not dwell on what the Suflfolk 
farmers called the * Castringham sickness.' 

The second Sir Matthew died in 1785, as I 
said, and was duly succeeded by his son, Sir 
Richard. It was in his time that the great 
family pew was built out on the north side of 
the parish church. So large were the Squire's 
ideas that several of the graves on that un- 
hallowed side of the building had to be dis- 
turbed to satisfy his requirements. Among 
them was that of Mrs. Mothersole, the position 
of which was accurately known, thanks to a 
note on a plan of the church and yard, both 
made by Mr. Crome. 

A certain amount of interest was excited in 



the village when it was known that the famous 
witch, who was still remembered by a few, was 
to be exhumed. And the feeling of surprise, 
and indeed disquiet, was very strong when it 
was found that, though her coffin was fairly 
sound and unbroken, there was no trace what- 
ever inside it of body, bones, or dust. Indeed, 
it is a curious phenomenon, for at the time of 
her burying no such things were dreamt of as 
resurrection-men, and it is difficult to conceive 
any rational motive for stealing a body other- 
wise than for the uses of the dissecting-room. 

The incident revived for a time all the 
stories of witch-trials and of the exploits of 
the witches, dormant for forty years, and Sir 
Richard's orders that the coffin should be burnt 
were thought by a good many to be rather 
foolhardy, though they were duly carried out. 

Sir Kichard was a pestilent innovator, it is 
certain. Before his time the Hall had been a 
fine block of the mellowest red brick ; but Sir 
Richard had travelled in Italy and become 
infected with the Italian taste, and, having 
more money than his predecessors, he deter- 


mined to leave an Italian palace where he had 
found an English house. So stucco and ashlar 
masked the brick; some indifferent Roman 
marbles were planted about in the entrance- 
hall and gardens ; a reproduction of the Sibyl's 
temple at Tivoli was erected on the opposite 
bank of the mere ; and Castringham took an 
entirely new, and, I must say, a less engaging, 
aspect. But it was much admired, and served 
as a model to a good many of the neighbour- 
ing gentry in after-years. 

One morning, (it was in 1754) Sir Richard 
woke after a night of discomfort. It had been 
windy, and his chimney had smoked per- 
sistently, and yet it was so cold that he must 
keep up a fire. Also something had so rattled 
about the window that no man could get a 
moment's peace. Further, there was the 
prospect of several guests of position arriving 
in the course of the day, who would expect 
sport of some kind, and the inroads of the 
distemper (which continued among his game) 
had been lately so serious that he was afraid 



for his reputation as a game-preserver. But 
what really touched him most nearly was the 
other matter of his sleepless night. He could 
certainly not sleep in that room again. 

That was the chief subject of his meditations 
at breakfast, and after it he began a systematic 
examination of the rooms to see which would 
suit his notions best. It was long before he 
foimd one. This had a window with an eastern 
aspect and that with a northern ; this door the 
servants would be always passing, and he did 
not like the bedstead in that. No, he must 
have a room with a western look-out, so that 
the sun could not wake him early, and it must 
be out of the way of the business of the house. 
The housekeeper was at the end of her 

*Well, Sir Richard,' she said, *you know 
that there is but the one room like that in the 

* Which may that be ?' said Sir Richard. 

'And that is Sir Matthew's — the West 

'Well, put me in there, for there I'll lie 


to-night,' said her master. ' Which way is it ? 
Here, to be sure ;' and he hurried off. 

* Oh, Sir Richard, but no one has slept there 
these forty years. The air has hardly changed 
since Sir Matthew died there.' 

Thus she spoke, and rustled after him. 

* Come, open the door, Mrs. Chiddock. I'll 
see the chamber, at least.' 

So it was opened, and, indeed, the smell was 
very close and earthy. Sir Richard crossed to 
the window, and, inipatiently, as was his wont, 
threw the shutters back, and flimg open the 
casement. For this end of the house was one 
which the alterations had barely touched, grown 
up as it was with the great ash-tree, and being 
otherwise concealed from view. 

* Air it, Mrs. Chiddock, all to-day, and move 
my bed-furniture in in the afternoon. Put 
the Bishop of Kilmore in my old room.' 

* Pray, Sir Richard,' said a new voice, break- 
ing in on this speech, * might I have the favour 
of a moment's interview V 

Sir Richard turned round and saw a man 
in black in the doorway, who bowed. 


* I must ask your indulgence for this intru- 
sion. Sir Kichard. You will, perhaps, hardly 
remember me. My name is William Crome, 
and my grandfather was Vicar here in your 
grandfather's time.' 

* Well, sir,' said Sir Richard, * the name of 
Crome is always a passport to Castringham. 
I am glad to renew a friendship of two genera- 
tions' standing. In what can I serve you ? for 
your hour of calling — and, if I do not mis- 
take you, your bearing — shows you to be in 
some haste.' 

' That is no more than the truth, sir. I am 
riding from Norwich to Bury St. Edmunds 
with what haste I can make, and I have called 
in on my way to leave with you some papers 
which we have but just come upon in looking 
over what my grandfather left at his death. 
It is thought you may find some matters of 
family interest in them.' 

*You are mighty obliging, Mr. Crome, 
and, if you will be so good as to follow me to 
the parlour, and drink a glass of wine, we will 
take a first look at these same papers 


together. And you, Mrs. Chiddock, as I said, 
be about airing this chamber. . . . Yes, it is 
here my grandfather died. . . . Yes, the tree, 
perhaps, does make the place a little dampish. 
. . . No ; I do not wish to listen to any more. 
Make no difficulties, I beg. You have your 
orders — ^go. Will you follow me, sir V 

They went to the study. The packet 
which yoimg Mr. Crome had brought — he was 
then just become a Fellow of Clare Hall 
in Cambridge, I may say, and subsequently 
brought out a respectable edition of Polyaenus 
— contained among other things the notes 
which the old Vicar had made upon the occa- 
sion of Sir Matthew Fell's death. And for 
the first time Su- Richard was confronted with 
the enigmatical Sortes BibUcce which you 
have heard. They amused him a good deal. 

*Well,' he said, *my grandfather's Bibl^ 
gave one prudent piece of advice — Cut it 
down. If that stands for the ash-tree, he may 
rest assured I shall not neglect it. Such a 
nest of catarrhs and agues was never seen.' 

The parlour contained the family books. 


which, pending the arrival of a collection 
which Sir Richard had made in Italy, and the 
building of a proper room to receive them, 
were not many in number. 

Sir Richard looked up from the paper to the 

* I wonder,' says he, * whether the old 
prophet is there yet ? I fancy I see him.' 

Crossing the room, he took out a dumpy 
Bible, which, sure enough, bore on the flyleaf 
the inscription : * To Matthew Fell, from his 
LiOving Godmother, Anne Aldous, 2 September, 

* It would be no bad plan to test him again, 
Mr. Crome. I will wager we get a couple of 
names in the Chronicles. H'm I what have we 
here ? " Thou shalt seek me in the morning, 
and I shall not be." WeU, well ! Your grand- 
father would have made a fine omen of that, 
hey ? No more prophets for me I They are 
all in a tale. And now, Mr. Crome, I am 
infinitely obliged to you for your packet. You 
will, I fear, be impatient to get on. Pray 
allow me — another glass.' 


So with offers of hospitality, which were 
genuinely meant (for Sir Richard thought well 
of the young man's address and manner) they 

In the afternoon came the guests — ^the 
Bishop of Kilmore, Lady Mary Hervey, Sir 
William Kentfield, etc. Dinner at five, wine, 
cards, supper, and dispersal to bed. 

Next morning Sir Richard is disinclined to 
take his gun with the rest. He talks with the 
Bishop of Kilmore. This prelate, unlike a 
good many of the Irish Bishops of his day, 
had visited his see, and, indeed, resided there, 
for some considerable time. This morning, as 
the two were walking along the terrace and 
talking over the alterations and improvements 
in the house, the Bishop said, pointing to the 
window of the West Room : 

* You could never get one of my Irish flock 
to occupy that room. Sir Richard.' 

* Why is that, my lord ? It is, in fact, my 

* Well, our Irish peasantry will always have 
it that it brings the worst of luck to sleep near 


an ash-tree, and you have a fine growth of ash 
not two yards from your chamber window. 
Perhaps,' the Bishop went on, with a smile, * it 
has given you a touch of its quality akeady, 
for you do not seem, if I may say it, so much 
the fresher for your night's rest as your friends 
would like to see you.' 

' That, or something else, it is true, cost me 
my sleep from twelve to four, my lord. But 
the tree is to come down to-morrow, so I shall 
not hear much more from it.' 

* I applaud your determination. It can 
hardly be wholesome to have the air you 
breathe strained, as it were, through all that 

* Your lordship is right there, I think. But 
I had not my window open last night. It was 
rather the noise that went on — ^no doubt from 
the twigs sweeping the glass — ^that kept me 

* I think that can hardly be. Sir Richard. 
Here — you see it from this point. None of 
these nearest branches even can touch your 
casement unless there were a gale, and there 


was none of that last night. They miss the 
panes by a foot.' 

*No, sir, true. What, then, will it be, I 
wonder, that scratched and rustled so — ^ay, and 
covered the dust on my siU with Unes and 
marks V 

At last they agreed that the rats must have 
come up through the ivy. That was the 
Bishop's idea, and Sir Richard jumped at it. 

So the day passed quietly, and night came, 
and the party dispersed to their rooms, and 
wished Sir Richard a better night. 

And now we are in his bedroom, with the 
light out and the Squire in bed. The room 
is over the kitchen, and the night outside 
still and warm, so the window stands open. 

There is very little light about the bedstead, 
but there is a strange movement there; it 
seems as if Sir Richard were moving his head 
rapidly to and fro with only the slightest 
possible sound. And now you would guess, 
so deceptive is the half-darkness, that he had 
several heads, round and brownish, which 
move back and forward, even as low as his 


chest. It is a horrible illusion. Is it nothing 
more ? There ! something drops off the bed 
with a soft plump, like a kitten, and is out of 
the window in a flash ; another— four— and 
after that there is quiet again. 

* Thxm shcdt seek me in the mornings and 1 
shall not be.'' 

As with Sir Matthew, so with Sir Richard 
— dead and black in his bed I 

A pale and silent party of guests and 
servants gathered under the ^window when 
the news was known. Italian poisoners, 
Popish emissaries, infected air — all these and 
more guesses were hazarded, and the Bishop 
of Kilmore looked at the tree, in the fork 
of whose lower boughs a white tom-cat was 
crouching, looking down the hollow which 
years had gnawed in the trunk. It was 
watching something inside the tree with great 

Suddenly it got up and craned over the 
hole. Then a bit of the edge on which it 


stood gave way, and it went sUthering in. 
Everyone looked up at the noise of the fall. 

It is known to most of us that a cat can 
cry ; but few of us have heard, I hope, such a 
yell as came out of the trunk of the great 
ash. Two or three screams there were — ^the 
witnesses are not sure which — and then a 
slight and muffled noise of some commotion 
or struggling was all that came. But Lady 
Mary Hervey fainted outright, and the house- 
keeper stopped her ears and fled till she fell 
on the terrace. 

The Bishop of Kilmore and Sir William 
Kentfield stayed.' Yet even they were daunted, 
though it was only at the cry of a cat ; and 
Sir William swallowed once or twice before 
he could say : 

* There is something more than we know of 
in that tree, my lord. I am for an instant 

And this was agreed upon. A ladder was 
brought, and one of the gardeners went up, 
and, looking down the hollow, could detect 
nothing but a few dim indications of some- 


thing moving. They got a lantern, and let it 
down by a rope. 

* We must get at the bottom of this. My 
life upon it, my lord, but the secret of these 
terrible deaths is there.' 

Up went the gardener again with the 
lantern, and let it down the hole cautiously. 
They saw the yellow light upon his face as 
he bent over, and saw his face struck with 
an incredulous terror and loathing before he 
cried out in a dreadful voice and fell back 
from the ladder — ^where, happily, he was caught 
by two of the men — ^letting the lantern fall 
inside the tree. 

He was in a dead faint, and it was some 
time before any word could be got from him. 

By then they had something else to look 
at. The lantern must have broken at the 
bottom, and the light in it caught upon dry 
leaves and rubbish that lay there, for in a 
few minutes a dense smoke began to come up, 
and then flame ; and, to be short, the tree was 
in a blaze. 

The bystanders made a ring at some yards' 


distance, and Sir William and the Bishop sent 
men to get what weapons and tools they 
could; for, clearly, whatever might be using 
the tree as its lair would be forced out by 
the fire. 

So it was. First, at the fork, they saw a 
round body covered with fire — ^the size of a 
man's head — appear very suddenly, then seem 
to collapse and fall back. This, five or six 
times; then a similar ball leapt into the air 
and fell on the grass, where after a moment it 
lay still. The Bishop went as near as he dared 
to it, and saw — ^what but the remains of an 
enormous spider, veinous and seared I And, 
as the fire binned lower down, more terrible 
bodies like this began to break out from the 
trunk, and it was seen that these were covered 
with grayish hair. 

All that day the ash burned, and imtil it 
fell to pieces the men stood about it, and from 
time to time killed the brutes as they darted 
out. At last there was a long interval when 
none appeared, and they cautiously closed in 
and examined the roots of the tree. 


* They found,' says the Bishop of KUmore, 
* below it a rounded hollow place in the earth, 
wherein were two or three bodies of these 
creatures that had plainly been smothered by 
the smoke ; and, what is to me more curious, 
at the side of this den, against the wall, was 
crouching the anatomy or skeleton of a 
human being, with the sldn dried upon the 
bones, having some remains of black hair, 
which was pronounced by those that examined 
it to be undoubtedly the body of a woman, 
and clearly dead for a period of fifty years.' 





Among the towns of Jutland, Viborg justly 
holds a high place. It is the seat of a bishop- 
ric ; it has a handsome but almost entirely 
new cathedral, a charming garden, a lake of 
great beauty, and many storks. Near it is 
Hald, accounted one of the prettiest things in 
Denmark; and hard by is Finderup, where 
Marsk Stig murdered King Erik Clipping on 
St. Cecilia's Day, in the year 1286. Fifty-six 
blows of square-headed iron maces were traced 
on Erik's skull when his tomb was opened in 
the seventeenth century. But I am not 
writing a guide-book. 

There are good hotels in Viborg — ^Preisler's 
and the Phoenix are all that can be desired. 
But my cousin, whose experiences I have to 
tell you now, went to the Golden Lion the 

115 8—2 


first time that he visited Viborg. He has not 
been there since, and the foUowing pages wiU 
perhaps explain the reason of his abstention. 

The Golden Lion is one of the very few 
houses in the town that were not destroyed 
in the great fire of 1726, which practically 
demoUshed the cathedral, the Sognekirke, the 
Raadhuus, and so much else that was old and 
interesting. It is a great red-brick house — 
that is, the fi-ont is of brick, with corbie steps 
on the gables and a text over the door ; but 
the courtyard into which the omnibus drives 
is of black and white wood and plaster. 

The sun was declining in the heavens when 
my cousin walked up to the door, and the light 
smote full upon the imposing fa9ade of the 
house. He was delighted with the old- 
fashioned aspect of the place, and promised 
himself a thoroughly satisfactory and amusing 
stay in an inn so typical of old Jutland. 

It was not business in the ordinary sense 
of the word that had brought Mr. Anderson 
to Viborg. He was engaged upon some re- 
searches into the Church history of Denmark, 

NUMBER 13 117 

and it had come to his knowledge that in the 
Kigsarkiv of Viborg there were papers, saved 
from the fire, relating to the last days of 
Roman CathoUcism in the comitry. He 
proposed, therefore, to spend a considerable 
time — ^perhaps as much as a fortnight or three 
weeks — ^in examining and cop5dng these, and 
he hoped that the Golden Lion would be able 
to give him a room of sufficient size to serve 
alike as a bedroom and a study. His wishes 
were explained to the landlord, and, after a 
certain amount of thought, the latter suggested 
that perhaps it might be the best way for the 
gentleman to look at one or two of the larger 
rooms and pick one for himself. It seemed a 
good idea. 

The top floor was soon rejected as entailing 
too much getting upstairs after the day's work ; 
the second floor contained no room of exactly 
the dimensions required ; but on the first floor 
there was a choice of two or three rooms which 
would, so far as size went, suit admirably. 

The landlord was strongly in favour of 
Number 17, but Mr. Anderson pointed out 



that its windows commanded only the blank 
wall of the next house, and that it would be 
very dark in the afternoon. Either Number 12 
or Number 14 would be better, for both of 
them looked on the street, and the bright 
evening light and the pretty view would more 
than compensate him for the additional amount 
of noise. 
'\ Eventually Number 12 was selected. Like 

its neighbours, it had three windows, all on one 
side of the room ; it was fairly high and un- 
usually long. There was, of course, no fire- 
place, but the stove was handsome and rather 
old — a cast-iron erection, on the side of which 
was a representation of Abraham sacrificing 
Isaac, and the inscription, '1 Bog Mose, 
Cap. 22,' above. Nothing else in the room 
was remarkable ; the only interesting picture 
was an old coloured print of the town, date 
about 1820. 

Supper-time was approaching, but when 
Anderson, refreshed by the ordinary ablutions, 
descended the staircase, there were still a few 
minutes before the bell rang. He devoted 

NUMBER 13 119 

them to examining the list of his fellow-lodgers. 
As is usual in Denmark, their names were 
displayed on a large blackboard, divided into 
columns and lines, the numbers of the rooms 
being painted in at the beginning of each line. 
The list was not exciting. There was an advo- 
cate, or Sagfbrer, a German, and some bagmen 
from Copenhagen. The one and only point 
which suggested any food for thought was the 
absence of any Number 18 from the tale of the 
rooms, and even this was a thing which Ander- 
son had already noticed half a dozen times in 
his experience of Danish hotels. He could not 
help wondering whether the objection to that 
particular number, common as it is, was so 
widespread and so strong as to make it diffi- 
cult to let a room so ticketed, and he resolved 
to ask the landlord if he and his coUeagues in 
the profession had actually met with many 
clients who refused to be accommodated in the 
thirteenth room. 

He had nothing to tell me (I am giving the 
story as I heard it from him) about what passed 
at supper, and the evening, which was spent 


in unpacking and arranging his clothes, books, 
and papers, was not more eventful. Towards 
eleven o'clock he resolved to go to bed, but 
with him, as with a good many other people 
nowadays, an almost necessary preliminary to 
bed, if he meant to sleep, was the reading of a 
few pages of print, and he now remembered 
that the particular book which he had been 
reading in the train, and which alone would 
satisfy him at that present moment, was in the 
pocket of his great-coat, then hanging on a peg 
outside the dining-room. 

To run down and secure it was the work of a 
moment, and, as the passages were by no means 
dark, it was not difficult for him to find his 
way back to his own door. So, at least, he 
thought; but when he arrived there, and 
tinned the handle, the door entirely refused 
to open, and he caught the sound of a hasty 
movement towards it from within. He had 
tried the wrong door, of course. Was his own 
room to the right or to the left ? He glanced 
at the number : it was 13. His room would 
be on the left ; and so it was. And not before 

NUMBER 13 121 

he had been in bed for some minutes, had read 
his wonted three or four pages of his book, 
blown out his light, and turned over to go to 
sleep, did it occur to him that, whereas on the 
blackboard of the hotel there had been no 
Number 13, there was undoubtedly a room 
numbered 18 in the hotel. He felt rather 
sorry he had not chosen it for his own. Per- 
haps he might have done the landlord a little 
service by occupying it, and given him the 
chance of saying that a well-bom English 
gentleman had lived in it for three weeks and 
liked it very much. But probably it was used 
as a servapt's room or something of the kind. 
After all, it was most likely not so large or 
good a room as his own. And he looked 
drowsily about the room, which was fairly per- 
ceptible in the half-light from the street-lamp. 
It was a curious effect, he thought. Rooms 
usually look larger in a dim light than a full 
one, but this seemed to have contracted in 
length and grown proportionately higher. 
Well, well I sleep was more important than 
these vague ruminations — and to sleep he went. 


On the day after his arrival Anderson at- 
tacked the Rigsarkiv of Viborg. He was, as 
one might expect in Denmark, kindly re- 
ceived, and access to all that he wished to see 
was made as easy for him as possible. The 
documents laid before him were far more 
nimaerous and interesting than he had at all 
anticipated. Besides official papers, there was 
a large bundle of correspondence relating to 
Bishop Jorgen Friis, the last Roman Catholic 
who held the see, and in these there cropped 
up many amusing and what are called * inti- 
mate' details of private life and individual 
character. There was much talk of a house 
owned by the Bishop, but not inhabited by 
him, in the town. Its tenant was apparently 
somewhat of a scandal and a stumbling-block 
to the reforming party. He was a disgrace, 
they wrote, to the city ; he practised secret 
and wicked arts, and had sold his soul to the 
enemy. It was of a piece with the gross cor- 
ruption and superstition of the Babylonish 
Church that such a viper and blood-sucking 
Troldmand should be patronized and harboured 

NUMBER 13 123 

by the Bishop. The Bishop met these re- 
proaches boldly ; he protested his own abhor- 
rence of all such things as secret arts, and 
required his antagonists to bring the matter 
before the proper court — of course, the spiritual 
court — and sift it to the bottom. No one 
could be more ready and willing than himself 
to condemn Mag. Nicolas Francken if the 
evidence showed him to have been guilty of 
any of the crimes informally alleged against 

Anderson had not time to do more than 
glance at the next letter of the Protestant 
leader, Rasmus Nielsen, before the record 
office was closed for the day, but he gathered 
its general tenor, which was to the effect that 
Christian men were now no longer bound by 
the decisions of Bishops of Rome, and that 
the Bishop's Court was not, and could not be, 
a fit or competent tribunal to judge so grave 
and weighty a cause. 

On leaving the office, Mr. Anderson was 
accompanied by the old gentleman who pre- 
sided over it, and, as they walked, the conver- 


sation very naturally turned to the papers of 
which I have just been speaking. 

Herr Scavenius, the Archivist of Viborg, 
though very well informed as to the general 
run of the documents under his charge, was not 
a specialist in those of the Reformation period. 
He was much interested in what Anderson 
had to tell him about them. He looked for- 
ward with great pleasure, he said, to seeing 
the publication in which Mr. Anderson spoke 
of embodying their contents. * This house of 
the Bishop Friis,' he added, * it is a great puzzle 
to me where it can have stood. I have studied 
carefully the topography of old Viborg, but it 
is most unlucky — of the old terrier of , the 
Bishop's property which was made in 1560, 
and of which we have the greater part in the 
Arkiv, just the piece which had the Ust of the 
town property is missing. Never mind. Per- 
haps I shall some day succeed to find him.' 

After taking some exercise — I forget ex- 
actly how or where — Anderson went back to 
the Golden Lion, his supper, his game of 
patience, and his bed. On the way to his 

NUMBER 13 186 

room it occurred to him that he had forgotten 
to talk to the landlord about the omission of 
Number 18 from the hotel board, and also 
that he might as well make sure that 
Number 18 did actually exist before he made 
any reference to the matter. 

The decision was not difficult to arrive at. 
There was the door with its number as plain 
as could be, and work of some kind was 
evidently gomg on inside it, for as he neaxed 
the door he could hear footsteps and voices, 
or a voice, within. During the few seconds in 
which he halted to make sure of the number, 
the footsteps ceased, seemingly very near the 
door, and he was a little startled at hearing a 
quick hissing breathing as of a person in 
strong excitement. He went on to his own 
room, and again he was surprised to find how 
much smaller it seemed now than it had when 
he selected it. It was a slight disappoint- 
ment, but only slight. If he found it really 
not large enough, he could very easily shift 
to another. In the meantime he wanted 
something-as far as I remember it was a 


pocket-handkerchief — out of his portmanteau, 
which had been placed by the porter on a 
very inadequate trestle or stool against the 
wall at the furthest end of the room from 
his bed. Here was a very curious thing: 
the portmanteau was not to be seen. It had 
been moved by officious servants; doubtless 
the contents had been put in the wardrobe. 
No, none of them were there. This was 
vexatious. The idea of a theft he dismissed 
at once. Such things rarely happen in Den- 
mark, but some piece of stupidity had 
certainly been performed (which is not so 
uncommon), and the sttiepige must be 
severely spoken to. Whatever it was that 
he wanted, it was not so necessary to his 
comfort that he could not wait till the morn- 
ing for it, and he therefore settled not to ring 
the bell and disturb the servants. He went 
to the window— the right-hand window it 
was — and looked out on the quiet street. 
There was a tall building opposite, with large 
spaces of dead wall ; no passers by ; a dark 
night ; and very little to be seen of any kind. 

NUMBER 13 127 

The light was behmd him, and he could 
see his own shadow clearly cast on the wall 
opposite. Also the shadow of the bearded 
man in Number 11 on the left, who passed to 
and fro in shirtsleeves once or twice, and was 
seen first brushing his hair, and later on in a 
nightgown. Also the shadow of the occupant 
of Number 13 on the right. This might be 
more interesting. Number 18 was, like him- 
self, leaning on his elbows on the window-sill 
looking out into the street. He seemed to 
be a tall thin man — or was it by any chance 
a woman? — at least, it was someone who 
covered his or her head with some kind of 
drapery before going to bed, and, he thought, 
must be possessed of a red lamp-shade — ^and 
the lamp must be flickering very much. 
There was a distinct playing up and down of 
a dull red light on the opposite wall. He 
craned out a little to see if he could make 
any more of the figure, but beyond a fold of 
some light, perhaps white, material on the 
window-sill he could see nothing. 

Now came a distant step in the street, and 


its approach seemed to recall Number 13 to a 
sense of his exposed position, for very swiftly 
and suddenly he swept aside from the window, 
and his red light yfent out. Anderson, who 
had been smoking a cigarette, laid the end of 
it on the window-sill and went to bed. 

Next morning he was woke by the stuepige 
with hot water, etc. He roused himself, and 
after thinking out the correct Danish words, 
said as distinctly as he could : 

*You must not move my portmanteau. 
Where is it V 

As is not uncommon, the maid laughed, 
and went away without making any distinct 

Anderson, rather irritated, sat up in bed, 
intending to call her back, but he remained 
sitting up, staring straight in front of him. 
There was his portmanteau on its trestle, 
exactly where he had seen the porter put it 
when he first arrived. This was a rude shock 
for a man who prided himself on his accuracy 
of observation. How it could possibly have 
escaped him the night before he did, not 


pretend to understand; at any rate, there it 
was now. 

The daylight showed more than the port- 
manteau ; it let the true proportions of the 
room with its three windows appear, and satis- 
fied its tenant that his choice after all had not 
been a bad one. Wlien he was almost dressed 
he walked to the middle one of the three 
windows to look out at the weather. Another 
shock awaited him. Strangely unobservant he 
must have been last night. He could have 
sworn ten times over that he had been smoking 
at the right-hand window the last thing before 
he went to bed, and here was his cigarette-end 
on the sill of the middle window. 
' He started to go down to breakfast. Rather 
late, but Number 13 was later : here were his 
boots still outside his door — ^a gentleman's 
boots. So then Number 18 was a man, not a 
woman. Just then he caught sight of the 
number on the door. It was 14. He thought 
he must have passed Number 18 without 
noticing it. Three stupid mistakes in twelve 
hours were too much for a methodical, accurate- 



minded man, so he turned back to make sure. 
The next number to 14 was number 12, his 
own room. There was no Number 13 at alL 

After some minutes devoted to a carefiil 
consideration of everything he had had to eat 
and drink during the last twenty-four hours, 
Anderson decided to give the question up. If 
his eyes or his brain were giving way he would 
have plenty of opportunities for ascertaining 
that fact ; if not, then he was evidently being 
treated to a very interesting experience. In 
either case the development of events would 
certainly be worth watching. 

During the day he continued his examina- 
tion of the episcopal correspondence which I 
have already summarized. To his disappoint- 
ment, it was incomplete. Only one other 
letter could be found which referred to the 
affair of Mag. Nicolas Francken. It was 
from the Bishop Jorgen Friis to Rasmus 
Nielsen. He said : 

•Although we are not in the least degree 
inclined to assent to your judgment concerning 
our court, and shall be prepared if need be to 

NUMBER 18 131 

withstand you to the uttermost in that behalf, 
yet forasmuch as our trusty and well-beloved 
Mag. Nicolas Francken, against whom you 
have dared to allege certain false and malicious 
charges, hath been suddenly removed from 
among us, it is apparent that the question 
for this term falls. But forasmuch as you 
fiirther allege that the Apostle and Evangelist 
St. John in his heavenly Apocalypse describes 
the Holy Roman Church under the guise and 
symbol of the Scarlet Woman, be it known to 
you,' etc. 

Search as he would, Anderson could find 
no sequel to this letter nor any clue to 
the cause or manner of the * removal ' of the 
castis beUi. He could only suppose that 
Francken had died suddenly; and as there 
were only two days between the date of 
Nielsen's last letter — when Francken was 
evidently still in being — and that of the 
Bishop's letter, the death must have been 
completely unexpected. 

In the afternoon he paid a short visit to 
Hald, and took his tea at Baekkelund ; nor 



could he notice, though he was in a somewhat 
nervous frame of mind, that there was any 
indication of such a failure of eye or brain as 
his experiences of the mommg had led him 
to fear. 

At supper he found himself next to the 

What,' he asked him, after some indifferent 
conversation, * is the reason why in most of the 
hotels one visits in this country the number 
thirteen is left out of the list of rooms ? I see 
you have none here.* 

The landlord seemed amused. 

*To think that you should have noticed a 
thing like that 1 I've thought about it once 
or twice myself, to tell the truth. An educated 
man, I've said, has no business with these 
superstitious notions. I was brought up 
myself here in the high school of Viborg, and 
our old master was always a man to set his face 
against anything of that kind. He's been dead 
now this many years— a fine upstanding man 
he was, and ready with his hands as well as his 
head. I recollect us boys, one snowy day ' 

NUMBER 18 188 

Here he plunged into reminiscence. 

*Then you don't think there is any par- 
ticular objection to having a Number 18?* 
said Anderson. 

* Ah 1 to be sure. Well, you understand, I 
was brought up to the business by my poor old 
father. He kept an hotel in Aarhuus first, and 
then, when we were born, he moved to Viborg 
here, which was his native place, and had the 
Phcenix here untU he died. That was in 
1876. Then I started business in Silkeborg, 
and only the year before last I moved into this 

Then followed more details as to the state 
of the house and business when Grst taken 

*And when you came here, was there a 
Number 13 V 

' No, no. I was going to tell you about 
that. You see, in a place like this, the com- 
mercial class — ^the travellers — are what we have 
to provide for in general. And put them in 
Number 18 ? Why, they'd as soon sleep in 
the street, or sooner. As far as I'm concerned 


myself, it wouldn't make a pemiy difference to 
me what the number of my room was, and so 
I've often said to them ; but they stick to it 
that it brings them bad luck. Quantities of 
stories they have among them of men that 
have slept in a Number 18 and never been the 
same again, or lost their best customers, or — 
one thing and another,' said the landlord, after 
searching for a more graphic phrase. 

' Then, what do you use your Number 13 
for V said Anderson, conscious as he said the 
words of a curious anxiety quite disproportion- 
ate to the importance of the question. 

' My Number 18 ? Why, don't I tell you 
that there isn't such a thing in the house ? I 
thought you might have noticed that. If 
there was it would be next door to your own 

* Well, yes ; only I happened to think — 
that is, I fancied last night that I had seen a 
door numbered thirteen in that passage ; and, 
really, I am almost certain I must have been 
right, for I saw it the night before as well.' 

Of course, Herr Kristensen laughed this 

NUMBER 13 186 

notion to scorn, as Anderson had expected, and 
emphasized with much iteration the fact that 
no Number 18 existed or had existed before 
him in that hotel. 

Anderson was in some ways relieved by 
his certamty, but stiU puzzled, and he began 
to think that the best way to make sure 
whether he had indeed been subject to an 
illusion or not was to invite the landlord to 
his room to smoke a cigar later on in the 
evening. Some photographs of English towns 
which he had with him formed a sufficiently 
good excuse. 

Herr Kristensen was flattered by the invita- 
tion, and most willingly accepted it. At about 
ten o'clock he was to make his appearance, but 
before that Anderson had some letters to write, 
and retired for the purpose of writing them. 
He almost blushed to himself at confessing it, 
but he could not deny that it was the fact that 
he was becoming quite nervous about the 
question of the existence of Number 18 ; so 
much so that he approached his room by way 
of Number 11, in order that he might not be 


obliged to pass the door, or the place wha 
the door ought to be. He looked quid 
and suspiciously about the room when 
entered it, but there was nothing, beyond thi 
indefinable air of being smaller than usual, to 
warrant any misgivings. There was no question 
of the presence or absence of his portmanteau 
to-night. He had himself emptied it of its 
contents and lodged it under his bed. With 
a certain effort he dismissed the thought of 
Number 13 from his mmd, and sat down to his 

His neighbours were quiet enough. Oci 
sionally a door opened in the passage and 
pair of boots was thrown out, or a bagmi 
walked past humming to himself, and outside,* 
from time to time a cart thundered over the 
atrocious cobble-stones, or a quick step hurrii 
along the flags. 

Anderson finished his letters, ordered 
whisky and soda, and then went to the windo^ 
and studied the dead wall opposite and tl 
shadows upon it. 

As far as he could remember. Number 1< 

hi s I 


NUMBER 13 137 

had been occupied by the lawyer, a staid man, 
who said Uttle at meals, being generaUy 
engaged in studying a smaU bundle of papers 
beside his plate. Apparently, however, he was 
in the habit of giving vent to his animal spirits 
when alone. Why else should he be dancing? 
The shadow from the next room evidently 
showed that he was. Again and again his thin 
form crossed the window, his arms waved, and 
a gamit leg was kicked up with surprising 
agility. He seemed to be barefooted, and the 
floor must be well laid, for no sound betrayed 
his movements. Sagforer Herr Anders Jensen, 
dancing at ten o'clock at night in a hotel bed- 
room, seemed a fitting subject for a historical 
painting in the grand style ; and Anderson's 
thoughts, like those of Emily in the * Mys- 
teries of Udolpho,' began to * arrange them- 
selves in the following lines ' : 

* When I return to my hotel, 

At ten o^clock p.m.. 
The waiters think I am unwell ; 

I do not care for them. 
But when Fve locked my chamber door, 

And put my boots outside. 


I dasoe all nig^ tipoo the floor. 
And even if my neig^iboon swore, 
rd go on dandng aU the more. 
For Fm acquainted with the law. 
And in despite of all their jaw. 
Their protests I deride.^ 

Had not the landlord at this mom^it 
knocked at the door, it is probable that quite 
a long poem might have been laid before the 
reader. To judge from his look of surprise 
when he found himself in the room, Herr 
Kristensen was struck, as Anderson had been, 
by something unusual in its aspect. But he 
made no remark. Anderson's photoCTaphs in- 
^rested hu„ ^ightUy, and forced ^^ of 
many autobiographical discourses. Nor is it 
quite clear how the conversation could have 
been diverted into the desired channel of 
Number 18, had not the lawyer at this moment 
begun to sing, and to sing in a manner which 
could leave no doubt in anyone's mind that he 
was either exceedingly drunk or raving mad. 
It was a high, thin voice that they heard, and 
it seemed dry, as if from long disuse. Of words 
or tune there was no question. It went sailing 

NUMBER 18 139 

up to a surprising height, and was carried down 
withadespamngmoan as of awinterwind ina 
hollow chimney, or an organ whose wind fails 
suddenly. It was a really horrible sound, and 
Anderson felt that if he had been alone he 
must have fled for refiige and society to some 
neighbour bagman's room. 

The landlord sat open-mouthed. 

^ I don't understand it/ he said at last, 
wiping his forehead. ' It is dreadful. I have 
heard it once before, but I made sure it was 
a cax* 

* Is he mad ?' said Anderson. 

^ He must be ; and what a sad thing ! Such 
a good customer, too, and so successful in his 
business, by what I hear, and a young family 
to bring up.' 

Just then came an impatient knock at the 
door, and the knocker entered, without waiting 
to be asked. It was the lawyer, in deshabille 
and very rough-haired ; and very angry he 

' I beg pardon, sir,' he said, ' but I should be 
much obliged if you would kindly desist ' 


Here he stopped, for it was evident 
that neither of the persons before him was 
responsible for the disturbance ; and after a 
moment's lull it swelled forth again more 
wildly than before. 

* But what in the name of Heaven does it 
mean V broke out the lawyer. * Where is it ? 
Who is it ? Am I going out of my mind V 

* Surely, Herr Jensen, it comes from your 
room next door ? Isn't there a cat or some- 
thing stuck in the chimney V 

This was the best that occurred to Anderson 
to say, and he realized its futility as he spoke ; 
but anything was better than to stand and 
listen to that horrible voice, and look at the 
broad, white face of the landlord, all perspir- 
ing and quivering as he clutched the arms of 
his chair. 

^ Impossible,' said the lawyer, * impossible. 
There is no chimney. I came here because I 
was convinced the noise was going on here. 
It was certainly in the next room to mine.' 

' Was there no door between yours and 
mine V said Anderson eagerly. 

NUMBER 13 141 

* No, sir,* said Herr Jensen, rather sharply. 
* At least, not this morning.' 

* Ah !' said Anderson. ' Nor to-night V 

' I am not sure,' said the lawyer with some 

Suddenly the crying or singing voice in the 
next room died away, and the singer was heard 
seemingly to laugh to himself in a crooning 
manner. The three men actually shivered at 
the sound. Then there was a silence. 

* Come,' said the lawyer, * what have you to 
say, Herr Kristensen ? What does this mean V 

* Good Heaven !* said Kristensen. * How 
should I tell! I know no more than you, 
gentlemen. I pray I may never hear such a 
noise again.' 

^ So do I,' said Herr Jensen, and he 
added something under his breath. Anderson 
thought it sounded like the last words of the 
Psalter, ^omnis spirittis laudet Domintmif' but 
he could not be sure. 

* But we must do something,* said Anderson 
— * the three of us. Shall we go and investigate 
in the next room V 


* But that is Herr Jensen's room/ wailed the 
landlord. * It is no use ; he has come from 
there himself.' 

^ I am not so sure/ said Jensen. ^ I think 
this gentleman is right : we must go and see.' 

The only weapons of defence that could be 
mustered on the spot were a stick and um- 
brella. The expedition went out into the 
passage, not without quakings. There was a 
deadly quiet outside, but a light shone from 
under the next door. Anderson and Jensen 
approached it. The latter turned the handle, 
and gave a sudden vigorous push. No use. 
The door stood fast. 

* Herr Kristensen,' said Jensen, ^ will you go 
and fetch the strongest servant you have in the 
place ? We must see this through.' 

The landlord nodded, and hurried off, glad 
to be away from the scene of action. Jensen 
and Anderson remained outside looking at the 

* It is Number 13, you see,' said the latter. 

* Yes ; there is your door, and there is mine,' 
said Jensen. 

NUMBER 13 148 

'My room has three windows m the day- 
time/ said Anderson, with difficulty suppress- 
ing a nervous laugh. 

' By George, so has mine I' said the lawyer, 
turning and looking at Anderson. His back 
was now to the door. In that moment the 
door opened, and an arm came out and clawed 
at his shoulder. It was clad in ragged, 
yellowish linen, and the bare skin, where it 
could be seen, had long gray hair upon it. 

Anderson was just in time to puUJensen out 
of its reach with a cry of disgust and fright, 
when the door shut again, and a low laugh 
was heard. 

Jensen had seen nothing, but when Anderson 
hurriedly told him what a risk he had run, he 
fell into a great state of agitation, and sug- 
gested that they should retire from the enter- 
prise and lock themselves up in one or other 
of their rooms. 

However, while he was developing this 
plan, the landlord and two able-bodied men 
arrived on the scene, all looking rather serious 
and alarmed. Jensen met them with a torrent 


of description and explanation, wliich did not 
at all tend to encourage them for the fray. 

The men dropped the crowbars they 
brought, and said flatly that they were 
going to risk their throats in that devil's d) 
The landlord was miserably nervous and 
decided, conscious that if the danger were 
faced his hotel was ruined, and very loath to 
face it himself. Luckily Anderson hit upon; 
way of rallying the demoralized force. 

' Is this,' he said, ' the Danish courage I 
heard so much of ? It isn't a German in th( 
and if it was, we are five to one.' 

The two servants and Jensen were stung 
action by tliis, and made a dash at the door. 

' Stop !' said Anderson. ' Don't lose youT 
heads. You stay out here with the light, 
landlord, and one of you two men break 
the door, and don't go in when it gives way.' 

The men nodded, and the younger steppi 
forward, raised his crowbar, and dealt 
tremendous blow on the upper panel. The 
result was not in the least what any of them 
anticipated. There was no cracking or rending 




of wood — only a dull sound, as if the solid 
wall had been struck. The man dropped his 
tool with a shout, and began rubbing his elbow. 
His cry drew their eyes upon him for a moment ; 
then Anderson looked at the door again. It 
was gone; the plaster wall of the passage 
stared him in the face, with a considerable 
gash in it where the crowbar had struck it. 
Number 13 had passed out of existence. 

For a brief space they stood perfectly still, 
gazing at the blank wall. An early cock in 


the yard beneath was heard to crow ; and as 
Anderson glanced in the direction of the sound, 
he saw through the window at the end of the 
long passage that the eastern sky was paling 
to the dawn. 

^p ^^ ^r ^^ ^^ 

' Perhaps,' said the landlord, with hesitation, 
* you gentlemen would like another room for 
to-night — a double-bedded one V 

Neither Jensen nor Anderson was averse to 
the suggestion. They felt inclined to hunt in 
couples after their late experience. It was 
found convenient, when each of them went to 



his room to collect the articles he wanted for 
the night, that the other should go with him 
and hold the candle. They noticed that both 
Number 12 and Number 14 had three windows. 

Next morning the same party re-assembled 
in Number 12. The landlord was naturally 
anxious to avoid engaging outside help, and 
yet it was imperative that the mystery attach- 
ing to that part of the house should be cleared 
up. Accordingly the two servants had been 
induced to take upon them the function of 
carpenters. The furniture was cleared away, 
and, at the cost of a good many irretrievably 
damaged planks, that portion of the floor was 
taken up which lay nearest to Number 14. 

You will naturally suppose that a skeleton 
— say that of Mag. Nicolas Francken — was 
discovered. That was not so. What they did 
find lying between the beams which supported 
the flooring was a small copper box. In it was 
a neatly-folded vellum document, with about 
twenty lines of writing. Both Anderson and 
Jensen (who proved to be something of a 

NUMBER 13 147 

palaeographer) were much excited by this dis- 
covery, which promised to afford the key to 
these extraordinary phenomena. 

^ J^ J|U ^ J^ 

T^ TP tP t^ TP 

I possess a copy of an astrological work 
which I have never read. It has, by way of 
frontispiece, a woodcut by Hans Sebald 
Beham, representing a number of sages seated 
round a table. This detail may enable con- 
noisseurs to identify the book. I cannot my- 
self recollect its title, and it is not at this 
moment within reach ; but the fly-leaves of it 
are covered with writing, and, during the ten 
years in which I have owned the volume, I 
have not been able to determine which way 
up this writing ought to be read, much less 
in what language it is. Not dissimilar was 
the position of Anderson and Jensen after the 
protracted examination to which they sub- 
mitted the document in the copper box. 

After two days' contemplation of it, Jensen, 
who was the bolder spirit of the two, hazarded 
the conjecture that the language was either 
Latin or Old Danish. 



Anderson ventured upon no surmises, and 
was very willing to surrender the box and the 
parchment to the Historical Society of Viborg 
to be placed in their museum. 

I had the whole story from him a few 
months later, as we sat in a wood near Upsala, 
after a visit to the library there, where we — 
or, rather, I — had laughed over the contract by 
which Daniel Salthenius (in later life Professor 
of Hebrew at Konigsberg) sold himself to 
Satan. Anderson was not really amused. 

* Young idiot !' he said, meaning Salthenius, 
who was only an undergraduate when he conl- 
mitted that indiscretion, ^how did he know 
what company he was courting V 

And when I suggested the usual considera- 
tions he only grunted. That same afternoon 
he told me what you have read; but he 
refused to draw any inferences from it, and 
to assent to any that I drew for him. 




By what means the papers out of which I have 
made a eomieeted story came into my hands 
is the last point which the reader will learn from 
these pages. But it is necessary to prefix to 
my extracts from them a statement of the form 
in which I possess them. 

They consist, then, partly of a series of 
collections for a book of travels, such a 
volume as was a common product of the forties 
and fifties. Horace Marryat's * Journal of a 
Residence in Jutland and the Danish Isles ' is 
a fair specimen of the class to which I allude. 
These books usually treated of some un- 
known district on the Continent. They were 
illustrated with woodcuts or steel plates. They 
gave details of hotel accommodation, and of 
means of communication, such as we now 



expect to find in any well-regulated guide-book, 
and they dealt largely in reported conversations 
with intelligent foreigners, racy innkeepers and 
garrulous peasants. In a word, they were 

Begun with the idea of furnishing material 
for such a book, my papers as they progressed 
assumed the character of a record of one single 
personal experience, and this record was con- 
tinued up to within a very short time from its 

The writer was a Mr. WraxalL For my 
knowledge of him I have to depend entirely 
on the evidence his writings afFord, and from 
these I deduce that he was a man past 
middle age, possessed of some private means, 
and very much alone in the world. He had, 
it seems, no settled abode in England, but was 
a denizen of hotels and boarding-houses. It is 
probable that he entertained the idea of settling 
down at some future time which never came ; 
and I think it also likely that the Pantechnicon 
fire in the early seventies must have destroyed 
a great deal that would have thrown light 


on his antecedents, for he refers once or twice 
to property of his that was warehoused at 
that establishment. 

It is further apparent that Mr. WraxaU had 
published a book, and that it treated of a 
hoUday he had once taken in Britanny. More 
than this I cannot say about his work, because 
a diligent search in bibliographical works has 
convinced me that it must have appeared either 
anonymously or under a pseudonjma. 

As to his character, it is not difficult to form 
some superficial opinion. He must have been 
an intelligent and cultivated man. It seems 
that he was near being a Fellow of his college 
at Oxford — Brasenose, as I judge from the 
Calendar. His besetting fault was pretty clearly 
that of over-inquisitiveness, possibly a good 
fault in a traveller, certainly a fault for which 
our traveller paid dearly enough in the end. 

On what proved to be his last expedition, 
he was plotting another book. Scandinavia, a 
region not widely known to Englishmen forty 
years ago, had struck him as an interesting 
field. He must have alighted on some old 


books of Swedish history or memoirs, and the 
idea had struck him that there was room for a 
book descriptive of travel in Sweden, inter- 
spersed with episodes firom the history of some 
of the great Swedish families. He procured 
letters of introduction, therefore, to some 
persons of quality in Sweden, and set out 
thither in the early smnmer of 1868. 

Of his travels in the North there is no need 
to speak, nor of his residence of some weeks in 
Stockholm. I need only mention that some 
savant resident there put him on the track 
of an important collection of family papers 
belonging to the proprietors of an ancient 
manor-house in Vestergothland, and obtained 
for him permission to examine them. 

The manor-house, or herrgardj in question 
is to be called Raback (pronounced something 
like Roebeck), though that is not its name. 
It is one of the best buildings of its kind 
in all the country, and the picture of it in 
Dahlenberg's Suecia antiqua et moderna^ en- 
graved in 1694, shows it very much as the 
tourist may see it to-day. It was built soon 


after 1600, and is, roughly speakings very much 
like an English house of that period in respect 
of material — red-brick with stone facings — and 
style. The man who built it was a scion of 
the great house of De la Gardie, and his 
descendants possess it stilL De la Gardie is 
the name by which I will designate them when 
mention of them becomes necessary. 

They received Mr. Wraxall with great kind- 
ness and courtesy, and pressed him to stay in 
the house as long as his researches lasted. But, 
preferring to be independent, and mistrusting 
his powers of conversing in Swedish, he settled 
himself at the village inn, which turned out 
quite sufficiently comfortable, at any rate 
during the summer months. This arrangement 
would entail a short walk daily to and from the 
manor-house of something under a mile. The 
house itself stood in a park, and was protected 
— we should say grown up — ^with large old 
timber. Near it you found the walled garden, 
and then entered a close wood fringing one of 
the small lakes with which the whole country 
is pitted. Then came the wall of the demesne. 


and you climbed a steep knoU — a knob of 
rock lightly covered with soil — and on the top 
of this stood the church, fenced in with tall 
dark trees. It was a curious building to 
English eyes. The nave and aisles were low, 
and filled with pews and galleries. In the 
western gallery stood the handsome old organ, 
gaily painted, and with silver pipes. The 
ceiling was flat, and had been adorned by 
a seventeenth-century artist with a strange 
and hideous * Last Judgment,' full of lurid 
flames, falling cities, burning ships, crying 
souls, and brown and smiling demons. 
Handsome brass coronae hung from the 
roof; the pulpit was like a doll's - house, 
covered with little painted wooden cherubs 
and saints; a stand with three hour-glasses 
was hinged to the preacher's desk. Such 
sights as these may be seen in many a 
church in Sweden now, but what distinguished 
this one was an addition to the original build- 
ing. At the eastern end of the north aisle the 
builder of the manor-house had erected a 
mausoleum for himself and his family. It was 


a largish eight-sided building, lighted by a series 
of oval windows, and it had a domed roof, 
topped by a kind of pumpkin -shaped object 
rising into a spire, a form in which Swedish 
architects greatly delighted. .The roof was of 
copper externally, and was painted black, while 
the walls, in common with those of the 
church, were staringly white. To this mauso- 
leum there was no access from the church. It 
had a portal and steps of its own on the 
northern side. 

Past the churchyard the path to the village 
goes, and not more than three or four minutes 
bring you to the inn door. 

On the first day of his stay at Raback 
Mr. Wraxall found the church door open, and 
made those notes of the interior which I have 
epitomized. Into the mausoleum, however, 
he could not make his way. He could by 
looking through the keyhole just descry that 
there were fine marble effigies and sarcophagi 
of copper, and a wealth of armorial ornament, 
which made him very anxious to spend some 
time in investigation. 


The papers he had come to examine at the 
manor-house proved to be of just the kind he 
wanted for his book. Th^re were family 
correspondence, journals, and account-books 
of the earliest owners of the estate, very care- 
fiilly kept and clearly written, fiill of amusing 
and picturesque detail. The first De la Gardie 
appeared in them as a strong and capable man. 
Shortly after the building of the mansion there 
had been a period of distress in the district, 
and the peasants had risen and attacked several 
chateaux and done some damage. The owner 
of Raback took a leading part in suppressing 
the trouble, and there was reference to 
executions of ringleaders and severe punish- 
ments inflicted with no sparing hand. 

The portrait of this Magnus de la Gardie 
was one of the best in the house, and Mr. 
Wraxall studied it with no little interest after 
his day's work. He gives no detailed descrip- 
tion of it, but I gather that the face impressed 
him rather by its power than by its beauty or 
goodness ; in fact, he writes that Count Mag- 
nus was an almost phenomenally ugly man. 


On this day Mr. Wraxall took his supper 
with the family, and walked back in the late 
but still bright evening. 

* I must remember,' he writes, ' to ask the 
sexton if he can let me into the mausoleum at 
the church. He evidently has access to it 
himself, for I saw him to-night standing on 
the steps, and, as I thought, locking or unlock- 
ing the door.' 

I find that early on the following day Mr. 
Wraxall had some conversation with his land- 
lord. His setting it down at such length as 
he does surprised me at first ; but I soon 
realized that the papers I was reading were, at 
least in their beginning, the materials for the 
book he was meditating, and that it was to 
have been one of those quasi-journalistic pro- 
ductions which admit of the introduction of 
an admixture of conversational matter. 

His object, he says, was to find out whether 
any traditions of Count Magnus de la Gardie 
lingered on in the scenes of that gentleman's 
activity, and whether the popular esthnate of 


him were favourable or not. He found that 


the Count was decidedly not a favourite. If 
his tenants came late to their work on the days 
which they owed to him as Lord of the Manor, 
they were set on the wooden horse, or flogged 
and branded in the manor-house yard. One or 
two cases there were of men who had occupied 
lands which encroached on the lord's domain, 
and whose houses had been mysteriously burnt 
on a winter's night, with the whole family 
inside. But what seemed to dwell on the inn- 
keeper's mind most — for he returned to the 
subject more than once — was that the Count 
had been on the Black Pilgrimage, and had 
brought something or someone back with 

You will naturally inquire, as Mr. Wraxall 
did, what the Black Pilgrimage may have 
been. But your curiosity on the point must 
remain unsatisfied for the time being, just as 
his did. The landlord was evidently unwilling 
to give a fiiU answer, or indeed any answer, on 
the point, and, being called out for a moment, 
trotted out with obvious alacrity, only putting 
his head in at the door a few minutes after- 


wards to say that he was called away to Skara, 
and should not be back till evening. 

So Mr. Wraxall had to go unsatisfied to 
his day's work at the manor-house. The 
papers on which he was just then engaged soon 
put his thoughts into another channel, for he 
had to occupy himself with glancing over the 
correspondence between Sophia Albertina in 
Stockholm and her married cousin Ulrica 
Leonora at Raback in the years 1705-1710. 
The letters were of exceptional interest from 
the light they threw upon the culture of that 
period in Sweden, as anyone can testify who 
has read the full edition of them in the publi- 
cations of the Swedish Historical Manuscripts 

In the afternoon he had done with these, and 
after returning the boxes in which they were 
kept to their places on the shelf, he proceeded, 
very naturally, to take down some of the 
volumes nearest to them, in order to determine 
which of them had best be his principal subject 
of investigation next day. The shelf he had hit 
upon was occupied mostly by a collection of 



account-books in the writing of the first Count 
Magnus. But one among them was not an 
account-book, but a book of alchemical 
other tracts in another sixteenth-century hj 
Not being very familiar with alchemical litera- 
ture, Mr. Wraxall spends a good deal of space 
which he might have spared in setting out 
the names and beginnings of tlie various 
treatises : The book of the Phoenix, book 
the Thirty Words, book of the Toad, book 
Miriam, Turba philosophorum, and so forth 
and then he announces with a good deal of cir- 
cumstance his delight at finding, on a leaf 
originally left blank near the middle of the 
book, some writing of Count Magnus himself 
headed ' Liber nigrte peregrinationis.' It is true 
that only a few lines were written, but there 
was quite enough to show that the landlord 
had that morning been referring to a belief at 
least as old as the time of Count Magnus, and 
probably shared by him. This is the Engl 
of what was wTitten : 

' If any man desires to obtain a long Hfe, if he 
would obtain a faithful messenger and see the 

t an I 


tera- I 



and I 
fhe I 


blood of his enemies, it is necessary that he 
should first go into the city of Chorazin, and 
there salute the prince. . . .' Here there was an 
erasure of one word, not very thoroughly done, 
so that Mr. Wraxall felt pretty sure that he was 
right in reading it as a£ris (' of the air '). But 
there was no more of the text copied, only a 
line in Latin : * Quaere reliqua hujus materiel 
inter secretiora ' (See the rest of this matter 
among the more private things). 

It could not be denied that this threw a 
rather lurid light upon the tastes and beliefs 
of the Count ; but to Mr. Wraxall, separated 
from him by nearly three centuries, the thought 
that he might have added to his general forceful- 
ness alchemy, and to alchemy something like 
magic, only made him a more picturesque 
figure ; and when, after a rather prolonged con- 
templation of his picture in the hall, Mr. 
Wraxall set out on his homeward way, his mind 
was fiill of the thought of Count Magnus. 
He had no eyes for his surroundings, no per- 
ception of the evening scents of the woods or 
the evening light on the lake ; and when all of 



a sudden he pulled up short, he was astonisho 
to find himself already at the gate of 1 
churchyard, and within a few minutes of hisa 
dinner. His eyes fell on tlie mausoleum. 

' Ah,' he said, ' Count Magnus, there ya 
are. I should dearly like to see you.' 

' Like many solitary men,' he WTites, ' I have 
a habit of talking to myself aloud ; and, unhke 
some of the Greek and I-^atin particles, I do 
not expect an answer. Certainly, and perhaps 
fortunately in this case, there was neither voice 
nor any that regarded : only the woman who, I 
suppose, was cleaning up the church, dropped 
some metallic object on the floor, whose clai 
startled me. Count Magnus, I think, 
sound enough.' 

That same evening the landlord of the i 
who had heard Mr. Wraxall say that he wishe< 
to see the clerk or deacon (as he would ] 
called in Sweden) of the parish, introduee< 
him to that official in tlie inn parlour, 
visit to the De la Gardie tomb-house wot 
soon arranged for the next day, and a httl^ 
general conversation ensued. 


Mr. Wraxall, remembering that one function 
of Scandinavian deacons is to teach candidates 
for Confirmation, thought he would refresh 
his own memory on a Biblical point. 

* Can you tell me,' he said, * anything about 
Chorazin V 

The deacon seemed startled, but readily 
reminded him how that village had once been 

* To be sure,' said Mr. Wraxall ; * it is, I 
suppose, quite a ruin now V 

* So I expect,' replied the deacon. * 1 have 
heard some of our old priests say that Anti- 
christ is to be born there; and there are 
tales- ' 

'Ah! what tales are those?' Mr. Wraxall 
put in. 

* Tales, I was going to say, which I have 
forgotten,' said the deacon; and soon after 
that he said good-night. 

The landlord was now alone, and at Mr, 
Wraxall's mercy; and that inquirer was not 
inclined to spare him. 

* Herr Nielsen,' he said, ^ I have foimd out 


something about the Black Pilgrimage. You 
may as well tell me what you know. What 
did the Count bring back with him V 

Swedes are habitually slow, perhaps, in 
answering, or perhaps the landlord was an 
exception. I am not sure ; but Mr. Wraxall 
notes that the landlord spent at least one 
minute in looking at him before he said any- 
thing at all. Then he came close up to his 
guest, and with a good deal of effort he 
spoke : 

* Mr. Wraxall, I can tell you this one little 
tale, and no more — ^not any more. You must 
not ask anything when I have done. In my 
grandfather's time — that is, ninety-two years 
ago — there were two men who said: "The 
Count is dead ; we do not care for him. We 
will go to-night and have a free hunt in his 
wood" — the long wood on the hill that 
you have seen behind Raback. Well, those 
that heard them say this, they said: "No, 
do not go ; we are sure you will meet with 
persons walking who should not be walking. 
They should be resting, not walking." These 


men laughed. There were no forest-men to 
keep the wood, because no one wished to live 
there. The family were not here at the house. 
These men could do what they wished. 

*Very well, they go to the wood that 
night. My grandfather was sitting here in 
this room. It was the summer,, and a light 
night. With the window open, he could see 
out to the wood, and hear. 

* So he sat there, and two or three men with 
him, and they listened. At first they hear 
nothing at all ; then they hear someone — ^you 
know how far away it is — ^they hear someone 
scream, just as if the most inside part of his 
soul was twisted out of him. All of them in 
the room caught hold of each other, and they 
sat so for three-quarters of an hour. Then 
they hear someone else, only about three 
hundred ells off. They hear him laugh out 
loud : it was not one of those two men that 
laughed, and, indeed, they have all of them 
said that it was not any man at all. After 
that they hear a great door shut. 

* Then, when it was just light with the sun 


they all went to the priest They said to 

' " Father, put on your gown and your ruff, 
and come to bury these men, Anders Bjomsen 
and Hans Thorbjorn." 

* You understand that they were sure these 
men were dead. So they went to the wood — 
my grandfather never forgot this. He said 
they were all hke so many dead men them- 
selves. The priest, too, he was in a white 
fear. He said when they came to him : 

* " I heard one cry in the night, and I heard 
one laugh afterwards. If I cannot forget 
that, I shall not be able to sleep again." 

* So they went to the wood, and they found 
these men on the edge of the wood. Hans 
Thorbjorn was standing mth his back against 
a tree, and all the time he was pushing with 
his hands — pushing something away from him 
which was not there. So he was not dead. 
And they led him away, and took him to the 
home at Nykj oping, and he died before the 
winter; but he went on pushing with his 
hands. Also Anders Bjornsen was there ; but 


he was dead. And I tell you this about 
Anders Bjomsen, that he was once a beautiful 
man, but now his face was not there, because 
the flesh of it was sucked away off the bones. 
You understand that ? My grandfather did 
not forget that. And they laid him on the 
bier which they brought, and they put a cloth 
over his head, and the priest walked before ; 
and they began to sing the psalm for the dead 
as well as they could. So, as they were sing- 
ing the end of the first verse, one fell down, 
who was canying the head of the bier, and 
the others looked back, and they saw that the 
cloth had fallen off, and the eyes of Anders 
Bjomsen were looking up, because there was 
nothing to close over them. And this they 
could not bear. Therefore the priest laid the 
cloth upon him, and sent for a spade, and they 
buried him in that place.' 

The next day Mr. Wraxall records that 
the deacon called for him soon after his 
breakfast, and took him to the church and 
mausoleum. He noticed that the key of the 
latter was hung on a nail just by the pulpit, and 


it occurred to him that, as the church door 
seemed to be left unlocked as a rule, it would 
not be difficult for him to pay a second and 
more private visit to the monuments if there 
proved to be more of interest among them 
than could be digested at first. The building, 
when he entered it, he found not unimposing. 
The monuments, mostly large erections of the 
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, were 
dignified if luxuriant, - and the epitaphs and 
heraldry were copious. The central space of 
the domed room was occupied by three copper 
sarcophagi, covered with finely-engraved oma- 
ment. Two of them had, as is commonly the 
case in Denmark and Sweden, a large metal 
crucifix on the lid. The third, that of Coimt 
Magnus, as it appeared, had, instead of that, a 
full-length effigy engraved upon it, and round 
the edge were several bands of similar orna- 
ment representing various scenes. One was 
a battle, with cannon belching out smoke, 
and walled towns, and troops of pikemen. 
Another showed an execution. In a third, 
among trees, was a man running at fiill speed. 


with flying hair and outstretched hands. 
After him followed a strange form ; it would 
be hard to say whether the artist had intended 
it for a man, and was unable to give the 
requisite similitude, or whether it was inten- 
tionally made as monstrous as it looked. In 
view of the skill with which the rest of the 
drawing was done, Mr. Wraxall felt inclined 
to adopt the latter idea. The figure was 
unduly short, and was for the most part 
muffled in a hooded garment which swept 
the ground. The only part of the form which 
projected from that shelter was not shaped 
like any hand or arm. Mr. Wraxall compares 
it to the tentacle of a devil-fish, and continues : 
^ On seeing this, I said to myself, " This, then, 
which is evidently an allegorical representation 
of some kind — a fiend pursuing a hunted soul 
— ^may be the origin of the story of Count 
Magnus and his mysterious companion. Let 
us see how the huntsman is pictured : doubt- 
less it will be a demon blowing his horn." ' But, 
as it turned out, there was no such sensational 
figure, only the semblance of a cloaked man 


Oil a hillock, who stood leaning on a stick, and 
watching the hunt with an interest which the 
engraver had tried to express in his attitude. 

Blr. Wraxall noted the finely-worked and 
massive steel padlocks — ^three in number — 
which secured the sarcophagus. One of them, 
he saw, was detached, and lay on the pavement. 
And then, unwilling to delay the deacon longer 
or to waste his own working-time, he made 
his way onward to the manor-house. 

* It is curious,' he notes, * how on retracing 
a familiar path one's thoughts engross one to 
the absolute exclusion of surrounding objects. 
To-night, for the second time, 1 had entirely 
failed to notice where I was going (1 had 
planned a private visit to the tomb-house to 
copy the epitaphs), when I suddenly, as it 
were, awoke to consciousness, and found 
myself (as before) turning in at the church- 
yard gate, and, I believe, singing or chanting 
Nome such words as, " Are you awake, Coimt 
Magnus ? Are you asleep, Count Magnus ?" 
and then something more which I have failed 
to recollect. It seemed to me that I must 


have been behaving in this nonsensical way 
for some time.' 

He fomid the key of the manor-house where 
he had expected to find it, and copied the 
greater part of what he wanted; in fact, he 
stayed until the light began to fail him. 

* I must have been wrong,' he writes, * in 
saying that one of the padlocks of my Count's 
sarcophagus was unfastened ; I see to-night 
that two are loose. I picked both up, and 
laid them carefully on the ^vindow-ledge, after 
trying unsuccessfully to close them. The 
remaining one is still firm, and, though I take 
it to be a spring lock, I cannot guess how it is 
opened. Had I succeeded in undoing it, I am 
almost afraid I should have taken the liberty of 
opening the sarcophagus. It is strange, the 
interest I feel in the personality of this, I fear, 
somewhat ferocious and grim old noble.' 

The day following was, as it turned out, the 
last of Mr. Wraxall's stay at Raback. He 
received letters connected with certain invest- 
ments which made it desirable that he should 
return to England ; his work among the 


papers was practically done, and travelling 
was slow. He decided, therefore, to make 
his farewells, put some finishing touches to his 
notes, and be off. 

These finishing touches and farewells, as it 
turned out, took more time than he had ex- 
pected. The hospitable family insisted on his 
stajdng to dine with them — they dined at 
three — and it was verging on half-past six 
before he was outside the iron gates of Raback. 
He dwelt on every step of his walk by the 
lake, determined to saturate himself, now that 
he trod it for the last time, in the sentiment of 
the place and hour. And when he reached 
the summit of the churchyard knoll, he 
lingered for many minutes, gazing at the 
limitless prospect of woods near and distant, 
all dark beneath a sky of liquid green. When 
at last he turned to go, the thought struck him 
that surely he must bid farewell to Count 
Magnus as well as the rest of the De la 
Gardies. The church was but twenty yards 
away, and he knew where the key of the 
mausoleum hung. It was not long before he 


was standing over the great copper coffin, and, 
as usual, talking to himself aloud. ^ You may 
have been a bit of a rascal in your time, 
Magnus,' he was sajdng, *but for all that I 

should like to see you, or, rather ' 

* Just at that instant,' he says, * I felt a blow 
on my foot. Hastily enough I drew it back, 
and something fell on the pavement with a 
clash. It was the third, the last of the three 
padlocks which had fastened the sarcophagus. 
I stooped to pick it up, and — Heaven is my 
witness that I am writing only the bare truth 
— before I had raised myself there was a sound 
of metal hinges creaking, and I distinctly saw 
the lid shifting upwards. I may have behaved 
like a coward, but I could not for my life stay 
for one moment. I was outside that dreadful 
building in less time than I can write — almost 
as quickly as I could have said — the words; 
and what frightens me yet more, I could npt 
turn the key in the lock. As I sit here in my 
room noting these facts, I ask myself (it was 
not twenty minutes ago) whether that lUoise 
of creaking metal continued, and I cannot tell 


whether it did or not. I only know that there 
was something more than I have written that 
alarmed me, but whether it was somid or 
sight I am not able to remember. What is 
this that I have done V 

Poor Mr. Wraxall ! He set out on his 
journey to England on the next day, as he had 
planned, and he reached England in safety; 
and yet, as I gather from his changed hand 
and inconsequent jottings, a broken man. 
One of several small note-books that have 
come to me with his papers gives, not a key to, 
but a kind of inkling of, his experiences. 
Much of his journey was made by canal-boat, 
and I find not less than six painful attempts 
to enumerate and describe his feUow-pas- 
sengers. The entries are of this kind : 

* 24. Pastor of village in Skane. Usual black coat 
and soft black hat. 

* 25. Commercial traveller from Stockholm going to 
Trollhattan. Black cloak, brown hat. 

* 26. Man in long black cloak, broad-leafed hat, very 

This entry is lined out, and a note added : 


* Perhaps identical with No. 13. Have not 
not yet seen his face.' On referring to 
No. 13, I find that he is a Roman priest in a 

The net result of the reckoning is always 
the same. Twenty-eight people appear in the 
enmneration, one being always a man in a long 
black cloak and broad hat, and the other a 

* short figm-e in dark cloak and hood.' On the 
other hand, it is always noted that only twenty- 
six passengers appear at meals, and that the 
man in the cloak is perhaps absent, and the 
short figm-e is certainly absent. 

On reaching England, it appears that Mr. 
Wraxall landed at Harwich, and that he 
resolved at once to put himself out of the 
reach of some person or persons whom he 
never specifies, but whom he had evidently 
come to regard as his pursuers. Accordingly 
he took a vehicle — it was a closed fly — not 
trusting the railway, and drove across country 
to the village of Belchamp St. Paul. It was 
about nine o'clock on a moonlight August 



night when he neared the place. He was 
sitting forward, and looking out of the window 
at the fields and thickets — there was Uttle else 
to be seen — racing past him. Suddenly he 
came to a cross - road. At the corner two 
figures were standing motionless ; both were 
in dark cloaks ; the taller one wore a hat, tlie 
shorter a hood. He had no time to see their 
faces, nor did they make any motion that he 
could discern. Yet tlie horse shied ■violently 
and broke into a gallop, and Mr. Wraxall sank 
back into his seat in something like desp 
tion. He had seen them before. 

Arrived at Belchamp St. Paul, he was fortu- 
nate enough to find a decent furnished lodging, 
and for the next twenty-four hours he Uved '■ 
comparatively speaking, in peace. His '. 
notes were written on this day. They are too -^ — = 
disjointed and ejaculatory to be given here in 
full, but the substance of them is clear 
enough. He is expecting a visit from his 
pursuers — how or when he knows not — and 
his constant cry is ' What has he done ?' 
• Is there no hope V Doctors, he knows, v 

11 sanl^l 



e too-*^ 


call him mad, policemen would laugh at him. 
The parson is away. What can he do but 
loC^k his door and cry to Gk)d ? 

People still remembered last year at Bel- 
champ St. Paul how a strange gentleman came 
one evening in July years back ; and how the 
next morning but one he was found dead, and 
there was an inquest ; and the jury that viewed 
the body fainted, seven of *em did, and none of 
'em wouldn't speak to what they see, and the 
verdict was visitation of God; and how the 
people as kep' the 'ouse moved out that same 
week, and went away from that part. But 
they do not, I think, know that any glimmer 
of light has ever been thrown, or could be 
thrown, on the mystery. It so happened that 
last year the little house came into my hands 
as part of a legacy. It had stood empty since 
1863, and there seemed no prospect of letting 
it ; so I had it pulled down, and the papers of 
which 1 have given you an abstract were 
found in a forgotten cupboard under the 
window in the best bedroom. 







*I SUPPOSE you will be getting away pretty 
soon, now Full tenn is over, Professor,' said 
a person not in the story to the Professor of 
Ontography, soon after th^y had sat down next 
to each other at a feast in the hospitable hall 
of St. James's College. 

The Professor was young, neat, and precise 
in speech. 

* Yes,' he said ; * my firiends have been making 
me take up golf this term, and I mean to go to 
the East Coast — ^in point of fact to Bumstow — 
(I dare say you know it) for a week or ten days, 
to improve my game. I hope to get off to- 

*Oh, Parkins,' said his neighbour on the 
other side, * if you are going to Bumstow, I 



wish you would look at the site of the 
Templars' preeeptory, and let me know if you 
thmk it would be any good to ha ve a dig there 
in the summer/ 

It was, as you might suppose, a person of 
antiquarian pursuits who said this, but, since he 
merely appears in this prologue, there is no 
need to give his entitlements. 

* Certainly,' said Parkins, the Professor : ^ if 
you will describe to me whereabouts the site 
is, I will do my best to give you an idea of the 
lie of the land when I get back ; or I could 
write to you about it, if you would tell me 
where you are likely to be.' 

* Don't trouble to do that, thanks. It's only 
that I'm thinking of taking my family in that 
direction in the Long, and it occurred to me 
that, as very few of the English preceptories 
have ever been properly planned, I might have 
an opportunity of doing something useful on 

I'he Professor rather sniffed at the idea that 
planning out a preceptory could be described 
as useful. His neighbour continued : 


* The site — I doubt if there is anything 
showing above ground — must be down quite 
close to the beach now. The sea has encroached 
tremendously, as you know, all along that bit 
of coast. I should think, from the map, that it 
must be about three-quarters of a mile from 
the Globe Inn, at the north end of the town. 
Where are you going to stay V 

*Well, at the Globe Inn, as a matter of 
fact,' said Parkins ; * I have engaged a room 
there. I couldn't get in anywhere else ; most 
of the lodging-houses are shut up in winter, 
it seems ; and, as it is, they tell me that the 
only room of any size I can have is really a 
double-bedded one, and that they haven't a 
comer in which to store the other bed, and 
so on. But I must have a fairly large room, 
for I am taking some books down, and mean 
to do a bit of work ; and though I don't quite 
fency having an empty bed — ^not to speak of 
two — ^in what I may call for the time being 
my study, I suppose I can manage to rough 
it for the short time I shall be there.' 

* Do you call having an extra bed in your 


room roughing it. Parkins V said a bluff person 
opposite. ^ Look here, I shall come down and 
occupy it for a bit ; itH be company for you/ 

The Professor quivered, but managed to 
laugh in a courteous manner. 

*By all means, Rogers; there's nothing I 
should like better. But I'm afraid you would 
find it rather dull; you don't play golf, do 


* No, thank Heaven 1' said rude Mr. Rogers. 

*Well, you see, when I'm not writing I 
shall most likely be out on the links, and that, 
as I say, would be rather dull for you, I'm 

* Oh, I don't know I There's certain to be 
somebody I know in the place ; but, of course, 
if you don't want me, speak the word. Parkins ; 
I shan't be offended. Truth, as you always 
tell us, is never offensive.' 

Parkins was, indeed, scrupulously polite and 
strictly truthful. It is to be feared that Mr. 
Rogers sometimes practised upon his know- 
ledge of these characteristics. In Parkins's 
breast there was a conflict now raging, which 


for a moment or two did not allow him to 
answer. That interval being over, he said : 

* Well, if you want the exact truth, Rogers, 
I was considering whether the room I speiak 
of would really be large enough to acconuno- 
date us both comfortably ; and also whether 
(mind, I shouldn't have said this if you hadn't 
pressed me) you would not constitute some- 
thing in the nature of a hindrance to my 

Rogers laughed loudly. 

*Well done, Parkins 1' he said. *It's all 
right. I promise not to interrupt your work ; 
don't you disturb yourself about that. No, I 
won't come if you don't want me; but I 
thought I should do so nicely to keep the 
ghosts off.' Here he might have been seen 
to wink and to nudge his next neighbour. 
Parkins might also have been seen to become 
pink. ' I beg pardon. Parkins,' Rogers con- 
tinued ; * I oughtn't to have said that. I 
forgot you didn't like levity on these topics.' 

'Well,' Parkins said, *as you have men- 
tioned the matter, I freely own that I do 


not like careless talk about what you call 
ghosts. A man in my position,' he went on, 
raising his voice a little, * cannot, I find, be 
too careful about appearing to sanction the 
current behefs on such subjects. As you 
know, Rogers, or as you ought to know ; for 
1 think I have never concealed my views ' 

^ No, you certainly have not, old man,' put 
in Rogers sotto voce. 

* 1 hold that any semblance, any appear- 

ance of concession to the view that such things 
might exist is to me a renimciation of all 
that I hold most sacred. But I'm afraid 
I have not succeeded in securing your atten- 

' Your undivided attention, was what Dr. 
Blimber actually said,'^ Rogers interrupted, 
with every appearance of an earnest desire for 
accuracy. ' But I beg your pardon, Parkins : 
I'm stopping you.' 

'No, not at all,' said Parkins. 'I don't 
remember Blimber ; perhaps he was before my 

* Mr. Rogers was wrong, vide 'Dombey and Son,' 
chapter xii. 


time. But I needn't go on. I'm sure you 
know what I mean.' 

* Yes, yes,' said Rogers, rather hastily — * just 
so. We'll go into it fiiUy at Bumstow, or 

In repeating the above dialogue I have 
tried to give the impression which it made 
on me, that Parkins was something of an old 
woman — rather henlike, perhaps, in his little 
ways; totally destitute, alasl of the sense 
of humour, but at the same time dauntless 
and sincere in his convictions, and a man 
deserving of the greatest respect. Whether 
or not the reader has gathered so much, that 
was the character which Parkins had. 

On the following day Parkins did, as he 
had hoped, succeed in getting away from his 
college, and in arriving at Bumstow. He was 
made welcome at the Globe Inn, was safely 
installed in the large double-bedded room of 
which we have heard, and was able before 
retiring to rest to arrange his materials for 
work in apple-pie order upon a commodious 


table which occupied the outer end of ■ 
room, and was surrounded on three sides 1 
windows looking out seaward ; that is to i 
the central window looked straight out to s 
and those on the left and right commandi 
prospects along the shore to the north . 
south respectively. On the south you 
the village of Bumstow. On the north ] 
houses were to be seen, but only the 
and the low cliff backing it Immediately in 
front was a strip — not considerable^K)f rough 
grass, dotted with old anchors, capstans, ; 
so forth ; then a broad path ; then the bead 
Whatever may have been the original distand 
between the Globe Inn and the sea, not mra 
than sixty yards now separated them. 

The rest of the population of the inn waj 
of course, a golfing one, and included fei 
elements that call for a special descriptioJ 
The most conspicuous figure was, perhapi 
that of an ancien miUtaire, secretary of 
London club, and possessed of a voice 
incredible strength, and of views of a pr< 
nouncedly Protestant tjfpe. These were afj 


to find utterance after his attendance upon 
the ministrations of the Vicar, an estimable 
man with inclinations towards a picturesque 
ritual, which he gallantly kept down as far 
as he could out of deference to East Anglian 

Professor Parkins, one of whose principal 
characteristics was pluck, spent the greater 
part of the day following his arrival at Burn* 
stow in what he had called improving his game, 
in company with this Colonel Wilson: and 
during the afternoon — ^whether the process of 
improvement were to blame or not, I am not 
sure — ^the Colonel's demeanour assumed a 
colouring so lurid that even Parkins jibbed 
at the thought of walking home with him from 
the links. He determined, after a short and 
furtive look at that bristling moustache and 
those incarnadined features, that it would be 
wiser to allow the influences of tea and tobacco 
to do what they could with the Colonel 
before the dinner-hour should render a meet- 
ing inevitable. 

*I might walk home to-night along the 


htsuh: he reflected— ' yes, and take a look- 
there win be light enough for that — at tlie 
nuns of idiich Disney was taUm^. I dcmt 
exactly know where they are, fay tiie wmy; 
but I expect I can hardly help stumUm^ on 

This he accomplished^ I may say, in the 
most literal sense, for in piddng his way from 
the links to the shingle beach his foot caught, 
partly in a gorse-root and partly in a biggish 
stone, and over he went. When he got up 
and surveyed his surroundings, he found him- 
self in a patch of somewhat broken ground 
covered with small depressions and mounds. 
These latter, when he came to examine them, 
proved to be simply masses of flints embedded 
in mortar and grown over with turf. He must, 
he quite rightly concluded, be on the site of 
the preceptory he had promised to look at. It 
seemed not unlikely to reward the spade of 
the explorer ; enough of the foundations was 
probably left at no great depth to throw a good 
deal of light on the general plan. He remem- 
bered vaguely that the Templars, to whom this 


site had belonged, were in the habit of build- 
ing round churches, and he thought a particular 
series of the humps or mounds near him did 
appear to be arranged in something of a circular 
form. Few people can resist the temptation 
to try a little amateur research in a department 
quite outside their own, if only for the satis- 
faction of showing how successful they would 
have been had they only taken it up seriously. 
Our Professor, however, if he felt something 
of this mean desire, was also truly anxious 
to oblige Mr. Disney. So he paced with care 
the circular area he had noticed, and wrote 
down its rough * dimensions in his pocket- 
book. Then he proceeded to examine an 
oblong eminence which lay east of the centre 
of the circle, and seemed to his thinking 
likely to be the base of a platform or altar. 
At one end of it, the northern, a patch of 
the turf was gone — ^removed by some boy or 
other creature ferae naturae. It might, he 
thought, be as well to probe the soil here for 
evidences of masonry, and he took out his knife 
and began scraping away the earth. And now 



followed another little discovery: a poition 
of soil fell inward as he scraped, and disclosed 
a small cavity. He lighted one match after 
another to help him to see of what nature the 
hole was, but the wind was too strong for them 
all. By tapping and scratching the sides with 
his knife, however, he was able to make out 
that it must be an artificial hole in masonry. 
It was rectangular, and the sides, top, and 
bottom, if not actually plastered, were smooth 
aifd regular. Of course it was empty. No I 
As he withdrew the knife he heard a metallic 
clink, and when he introduced his hand it met 
with a cylindrical object lying on the floor of 
the hole. Naturally enough, he picked it up, 
and when he brought it into the light, now 
fast fading, he could see that it, too, was of 
man's making — a metal tube about four inches 
long, and evidently of some considerable age. 

By the time Parkins had made sure that 
there was nothing else in this odd receptacle, it 
was too late and too dark for him to think of 
undertaking any further search. What he had 
done had proved so unexpectedly interesting 


that he determined to sacrifice a little more of 
the daylight on the morrow to archaeology. 
The object which he now had safe in his pocket 
was bomid to be of some slight value at least, 
he felt sm-e. 

Bleak and solemn was the view on which he 
took a last look before starting homeward. A 
fsdnt yellow light in the west showed the links, 
on which a few figures moving towards the 
club-house were still visible, the squat mar- 
tello tower, the lights of Aldsey village, the 
pale ribbon of sands intersected at intervals 
by black wooden groynings, the dim and 
murmuring sea. The wind was bitter from 
the north, but was at his back when he set out 
for the Globe. He quickly rattled and clashed 
through the shingle and gained the sand, upon 
which, but for the groynings which had to be 
got over every few yards, the going was both 
good and quiet. One last look behind, to mea- 
sure the distance he had made since leaving the 
ruined Templars' church, showed him a pros- 
pect of company on his walk, in the shape of a 
rather indistinct personage in the distance, who 



seemed to be making great effi>rts to catdii up 
with him, but made little, if any, progress. I 
mean that tliere was an appearance of running 
about his movements, but that the distance 
between him and Parkins did not seem 
materially to lessen. So, at least. Parkins 
thought, and decided that he almost certainly 
did not know him, and that it would be absurd 
to wait until he came up. For all that, com- 
pany, he began to think, would really be very 
welcome on that lonely shore, if only you could 
choose your companion. In his unenlightened 
days he had read of meetings in such places 
which even now would hardly bear thinking of. 
He went on thinking of them, however, until 
he reached home, and particularly of one 
which catches most people's fancy at some time 
of their childhood. ' Now I saw in my dream 
that Christian had gone but a very little way 
when he saw a foul fiend coming over the 
field to meet him.' * What should I do now,' he 
thought, ' if I looked back and caught sight of 
a black figure sharply defined against the yellow 
sky, and saw that it had horns and wings ? I 


wonder whether I should stand or run for it. 
Luckily, the gentleman behind is not of that 
kind, and he seems to be about as far off now 
as when I saw him first. Well, at this rate he 
won't get his dinner as soon as I shall ; and, 
dear me ! it's within a quarter of an hour of the 
time now. I must run 1' 

Parkins had, in fact, very little time for dress- 
ing. When he met the Colonel at dinner. Peace 
— or as much of her as that gentleman could 
manage — reigned once more in the military 
bosom ; nor was she put to flight in the hours 
of bridge that followed dinner, for Parkins was 
a more than respectable player. When, there- 
fore, he retired towards twelve o'clock, he felt 
that he had spent his evening in quite a satis- 
factory way, and that, even for so long as a 
fortnight or three weeks, life at the Globe 
would be supportable under similar conditions 
— * especially,' thought he, * if I go on im- 
proving my game.' 

As he went along the passages he met the 
boots of the Globe, who stopped and said : 

' Beg your pardon, sir, but as I was a-brush- 


ing your coat just now there was somethink 
fell out of the pocket. I put it on your chest 
of drawers, sir, m your room, sh: — a piece of a 
pipe or somethink of that, sir. Thank you, 
sir. Youll find it on your chest of drawers, 
sir — ^yes, sir. Good-night, sir.' 

The speech served to remind Parkins of his 
little discovery of that afternoon. It was with 
some considerable curiosity that he turned it 
over by the light of his candles. It was of 
bronze, he now saw, and was shaped very much 
after the manner of the modem dog- whistle ; 
in fact it was — yes, certainly it was — actually 
no more nor less than a whistle. He put it to 
his lips, but it was quite full of a fine, caked-up 
sand or earth, which would not yield to knock- 
ing, but must be loosened with a knife. Tidy 
as ever in his habits. Parkins cleared out the 
earth on to a piece of paper, and took the 
latter to the window to empty it out. The 
night was clear and bright, as he saw when he 
had opened the casement, and he stopped for 
an instant to look at the sea and note a belated 
wanderer stationed on the shore in fi-ont of the 


inn. Then he shut the wmdow, a little sur- 
prised at the late hours people kept at Bum- 
stow, and took his whistle to the light again. 
Why, surely there were marks on it, and not 
merely marks, but letters 1 A very little 
rubbing rendered the deeply-cut inscription 
quite legible, but the Professor had to confess, 
after some earnest thought, that the meaning 
of it was as obscure to him as the writmg on 
the wall to Belshazzar. There were legends 
both on the front and on the back of the 
whistle. The one read thus : 

^'^R FI.S ^^ 

The other : 

yRoais GST isTe qm ueLX^iTH^ 

*I ought to be able to make it out,* he 
thought ; * but I suppose I am a little rusty 
in my Latin. When I come to think of it, I 
don't believe I even know the word for a 
whistle. The long one does seem simple 


enough* It ought to mean^ ''Who is this 
who is coming ?" Well, the best way to find 
out is evidently to whistle for Imn.' 

He blew tentatively and stopped suddenly, 
startled and yet pleased at the note he had 
elicited. It had a quality of infinite distance 
in it, and, soft as it was, he somehow felt it 
must be audible for miles round. It was a 
sound, too, that seemed to have the power 
(which many scents possess) of forming pictures 
in the brain. He saw quite clearly for a moment 
a vision of a wide, dark expanse at night, with 
a fresh wind blowing, and in the midst a lonely 
figure — how employed, he could not tell. Per- 
haps he would have seen more had not the 
picture been broken by the sudden surge of a 
gust of wind against his casement, so sudden 
that it made him look up, just in time to see 
the white glint of a sea-bird's wing somewhere 
outside the dark panes. 

The sound of the whistle had so fascinated 
him that he could not help trying it once more, 
this time more boldly. The note was little, if 
at all, louder than before, and repetition broke 


the illusion — no picture followed, as he had 
half hoped it might. * But what is this ? Good- 
ness I what force the wind can get up in a few 
minutes I What a tremendous gust I There I 
I knew that window-fastening was no use! 
Ah! I thought so — both candles out. It is 
enough to tear the room to pieces.' 

The first thing was to get the window shut. 
While you might count twenty Parkins was 
struggling with the small casement, and felt 
almost as if he were pushing back a sturdy 
burglar, so strong was the pressure. It 
slackened all at once, and the window 
banged to and latched itself Now to re- 
light the candles and see what damage, if 
any, had been done. No, nothing seemed 
amiss ; no glass even was broken in the case- 
ment. But the noise had evidently roused at 
least one member of the household : the Colonel 
was to be heard stumping in his stockinged 
feet on the floor above, and growling. 

Quickly as it had risen, the wind did not 
fall at once. On it went, moaning and 
rushing past the house, at times rising to a cry 


so desolate that, as Parkins disinterestedly 
said, it might have made fanciful people feel 
quite uncomfortable ; even the unimaginative, 
he thought after a quarter of an hour, might 
be happier without it. 

Whether it was the wind, or the excitement 
of golf, or of the researches in the preceptory 
that kept Parkins awake, he was not sure. 
Awake he remained, in any case, long enough 
to fancy (as I am afraid I often do myself 
under such conditions) that he was the victim 
of all manner of fatal disorders : he would lie 
counting the beats of his heart, convinced that 
it was going to stop work every moment, and 
would entertain grave suspicions of his lungs, 
brain, liver, etc. — suspicions which he was sure 
would be dispelled by the return of daylight, 
but which until then refused to be put aside. 
He found a little vicarious comfort in the idea 
that someone else was in the same boat. A 
near neighbour (in the darkness it was not easy 
to tell his direction) was tossing and rustling 
in his bed, too. 

The next stage was that Parkins shut his 


eyes and determined to give sleep every 
chance. Here again over-excitement asserted 
itself in another form — that of making pic- 
tures. Earperto crede^ pictures do come to 
the closed eyes of one trying to sleep, and 
often his pictures are so little to his taste that 
he must open his eyes and disperse the images. 

Parkins's experience on this occasion was a 
very distressing one. He found that the 
picture which presented itself to him was con- 
tinuous. When he opened his eyes, of course, 
it went ; but when he shut them once more 
it framed itself afresh, and acted itself out 
again, neither quicker nor slower than before. 
What he saw was this : 

A long stretch of shore — ^shingle edged by 
sand, and intersected at short intervals with 
black groynes running down to the water — ^a 
scene, in fact, so like that of his afternoon's 
walk that, in the absence of any landmark, it 
could not be distinguished therefrom. The 
light was obscure, conveying an impression of 
gathering storm, late winter evening, and slight 
cold rain. On this bleak stage at first no actor 


was \isible. Then^ in the distance, a bobbing 
black object appeared ; a moment more, and it 
was a man running, jmnping, dambeiing over 
the groynes, and every few seconds looking 
eagerly back. The nearer he came the more 
obvious it was that he was not only anxious, 
but even terribly frightened, though his £ace 
was not to be distinguished. He was, more- 
over, almost at the end of his strength. On 
he came ; each successive obstacle seemed to 
cause him more difficulty than the last * Will 
he get over this next one V thought Parkins ; 
* it seems a little higher than the others.' Yes ; 
half climbing, half throwing himself, he did get 
over, and fell all in a heap on the other side 
(the side nearest to the spectator). There, as 
if really unable to get up again, he remained 
crouching under the groyne, looking up in an 
attitude of painful anxiety. 

So far no cause whatever for the fear of the 
runner had been shown ; but now there began 
to be seen, far up the shore, a little flicker of 
something light-coloured moving to and fro 
with great swiftness and irregularity. Rapidly 


growing larger, it, too, declared itself as a 
figure in pale, fluttering draperies, ill-defined. 
There was something about its motion which 
made Parkins very unwilling to see it at close 
quarters. It would stop, raise arms, bow 
itself toward the sand, then run stooping 
across the beach to the water-edge and back 
again ; and then, rising upright, once more con- 
tinue its course forward at a speed that was 
startling and terrifying. The moment came 
when the pursuer was hovering about from 
left to right only a few yards beyond the 
groyne where the runner lay in hiding. After 
two or three ineffectual castings hither and 
thither it came to a stop, stood upright, with 
arms raised high, and then darted straight 
forward towards the groyne. 

It was at this point that Parkins always 
failed in his resolution to keep his eyes shut. 
With many misgivings as to incipient failure of 
eyesight, overworked brain, excessive smoking, 
and so on, he finally resigned himself to light 
his candle, get out a book, and pass the night 
waking, rather than be tormented by this per- 


sistent panorama, which he saw clearly enough 
could only be a morbid reflection of his walk 
and his thoughts on that very day. 

The scraping of match on box and the glare 
of light must have startled some creatures 
of the night — ^rats or what not — which he 
heard scurry across the floor from the side of 
his bed with much rustling. Dear, dear I the 
match is out ! Fool that it is ! But the 
second one burnt better, and a candle and 
book were duly procured, over which Parkins 
pored till sleep of a wholesome kind came 
upon him, and that in no long space. For 
about the first time in his orderly and prudent 
life he forgot to blow out the candle, and when 
he was called next morning at eight there was 
still a flicker in the socket and a sad mess of 
guttered grease on the top of the little table. 

After breakfast he was in his room, putting 
the finishing touches to his golfing costume — 
fortime had again allotted the Colonel to him 
for a partner — ^when one of the maids came in. 

*Oh, if you please,' she said, 'would you 
like any extra blankets on your bed, sir V 


*Ahl thank you,' said Parkins. *Yes, I 
think I should like one. It seems likely to 
tiun rather colder.' 

In a very short time the maid was back with 
the blanket. 

' Which bed should I put it on, sir V she 

*What? Why, that one — ^the one I slept 
in last night,' he said, pointing to it. 

* Oh yes I I beg your pardon, sir, but you 
seemed to have tried both of 'em ; leastways, 
we had to make 'em both up this morning.' 

* Really ? How very absurd I' said Parkins. 
* I certainly never touched the other, except 
to lay some things on it. Did it actually seem 
to have been slept in ?' 

* Oh yes, sir 1' said the maid. ' Why, all 
the things was crumpled and throwed about all 
ways, if you'll excuse me, sir — quite as if 
anyone 'adn't passed but a very poor night, sir.' 

* Dear me,' said Parkins. * Well, I may 
have disordered it more than I thought when I 
mipacked my things. I'm very sorry to have 
given you the extra trouble, I'm sure. I 


expect a friend of mine soon, by the way — a 
gentleman from Cambridge — ^to come and 
occupy it for a night or two. That will be all 
right, I suppose, won't it V 

' Oh yes, to be sure, sir. Thank you, sir. 
It's no trouble, I'm siu^,' said the maid, and 
departed to giggle with her colleagues. 

Parkins set forth, with a stem determination 
to improve his game. 

I am glad to be able to report that he suc- 
ceeded so far in this enterprise that the Colonel, 
who had been rather repining at the prospect 
of a second day's play in his company, became 
quite chatty as the morning advanced ; and 
his voice boomed out over the flats, as certain 
also of our own minor poets have said, *like 
some great bourdon in a minster tower.' 

^ Extraordinary wind, that, we had last night, '^ 
he said. ^In my old home we should have 
said someone had been whistling for it.' 

^ Should you, indeed !' said Parkins. * Is 
there a superstition of that kind still current in 
your part of the country V 

* I don't know about superstition,' said the 


Colonel. * They believe in it all over Den- 
mark and Norway, as well as on the Yorkshire 
coast ; and my experience is, mind you, that 
there's generally something at the bottom of 
what these country-folk hold to, and have held 
to for generations. But it's your drive' (or 
whatever it might have been : the golfing 
reader will have to imagine appropriate digres- 
sions at the proper intervals). 

When conversation was resumed, Parkins 
said, with a slight hesitancy : 

* Apropos of what you were saying just now, 
Colonel, I think I ought to tell you that my 
own views on such subjects are very strong. 
I am, in fact, a convinced disbeliever in what 
is called the " supernatural." ' 

* What !' said the Colonel, * do you mean to 
tell me you don't believe in second-sight, or 
ghosts, or anything of that kind ?' 

* In nothing whatever of that kind,' returned 
Parkins firmly. 

* Well,' said the Colonel, * but it appears to 
me at that rate, sir, that you must be little 
better than a Sadducee.' 



Parkms was on the point of answering that, 
in his opinion, the Sadducees were the most 
sensible persons he had ever read of in the Old 
Testament ; but, feeling some doubt as to 
whether much mention of them was to be 
found in that work, he preferred to laugh the 
accusation oiF. 

' Perhaps I am,' he said ; ' but Here, 

give me my cleek, boy ! — ^Excuse me one 
moment, ColoneL' A short interval * Now, 
as to whistling for the wind, let me give 
you my theory about it The laws which 
govern winds are really not at all perfectly 
known — to fisher-folk and such, of course, 
not known at all. A man or woman of 
eccentric habits, perhaps, or a stranger, is 
seen repeatedly on the beach at some unusual 
hour, and is heard whistling. Soon afterwards 
a violent wind rises; a man who could read 
the sky perfectly or who possessed a barometer 
could have foretold that it would. The simple 
people of a fishing- village have no barometers, 
and only a few rough rules for prophesying 
weather. What more natural than that the 


eccentric personage I postulated should be 
regarded as having raised the wind, or that he 
or she should clutch eagerly at the reputation 
of being able to do so ? Now, take last night's 
wind : as it happens, I myself was whistling. 
I blew a whistle twice, and the wind seemed 
to come absolutely in answer to my call. If 

anyone had seen me ' 

The audience had been a little restive under 
this harangue, and Parkins had, [ fear, fallen 
somewhat into the tone of a lecturer ; but at 
the last sentence the Colonel stopped. 

* Whistling, were you V he said. ' And what 
sort of whistle did you use ? Play this stroke 
first' Interval. 

* About that whistle you were asking. 
Colonel. It's rather a cimous one. I have it 

in my No ; I see I've left it in my room. 

As a matter of fact, 1 found it yesterday.' 

And then Parkins narrated the manner- of 
his discovery of the whistle, upon hearing 
which the Colonel grunted, and opined that, 
in Parkins's place, he should himself be carefiil 
about using a thing that had belonged to a set 


tit GHfMrr-j?T(mas or as AsnoiCAMY 

• r • r- 

of VzJffistK, of Mhaan, qiraknig 
might te affinned that jaa nerer kneir what 
they might m^A hare heen up to. From tins 
topic he dWergtd to the enormities of tiie 
VuM, who had giren notice on the pteiioos 
Hund^y that Friday would be the Feast of 
Ht ^rhmnsLH the Apo^rtle, and that there woold 
f>e MTvice at eleven o'dock in the diarch. 
^rhi^ and other inmilar proceedings constitoted 
in the iUAaneVn view a stiraig presompticHi 
that the Viear was a concealed Papist, if not 
a Jesuit ; and Parkins, who could not very 
readily follow the Colonel in this region, did 
tuyt disagree with him. In &ct, they got on 
Hi) well together in the morning that there 
WRH no talk on either side of their separating 
nilcr lunch. 

Both (continued to play well during the after- 
noon, or, at least, well enough to make them 
Forg(;t everything else until the light began to 
liiil thcfri. Not until then did Parkins re- 
niettiber that he had meant to do some more 
investigating at the preceptory ; but it was of 
no great importance, he reflected. One day 


was as good as another ; he might as well go 
home with the ColoneL 

As they tmned the comer of the house, the 
Colonel was almost knocked down by a boy 
who rushed into him at the very top of his 
speed, and then, instead of running away, re- 
mained hanging on to him and panting. The 
first words of the warrior were naturaUy those 
of reproof and objiurgation, but he very quickly 
discerned that the boy was almost speechless 
with fright. Inquiries were useless at first. 
When the boy got his breath he began to 
howl, and still clung to the Colonel's legs. He 
was at last detached, but continued to howl. 

* What in the world is the matter with you ? 
What have you been up to ? What have you 
seen V said the two men. 

*Ow, I seen it wive at me out of the 
winder,' wailed the boy, * and I don't like it.' 

* What window ?' said the irritated ColoneL 

* Come, pull yourself together, my boy.' 

* The front winder it was, at the 'otel,' said 
the boy. 

At this point Parkins was in favour of send- 


ing the boy home, but the Colonel refused ; 
he wanted to get to the bottom of it, he said ; 
it was most dangerous to give a boy such a 
fright as this one had had, and if it turned out 
that people had been plajring jokes, they 
should suffer for it in some way. And by a 
series of questions he made out this story: 
The boy had been playing about on the grass 
in front of the Globe with some others ; then 
they had gone home to their teas, and he was 
just going, when he happened to look up at the 
front winder and see it a-wi\dng at him. It 
seemed to be a figure of some sort, in white as 
far as he knew — couldn't see its face ; but it 
wived at him, and it warn't a right thing — ^not 
to say not a right person. Was there a light 
in the room ? No, he didn't think to look if 
there was a light. Which was the window^ 
Was it the top one or the second one ? The 
seckind one it was —the big winder what got 
two little uns at the sides. 

* Very well, my boy,' said the Colonel, after 
a few more questions. * You run away home 
now. I expect it was some person trying to 


give you a start. Another time, like a brave 
English boy, you just throw a stone — ^well, no, 
not that exactly, but you go and speak to the 
waiter, or to Mr. Simpson, the landlord, and — 
yes — and say that I advised you to do so.' 

The boy's face expressed some of the doubt 
he felt as to the likelihood of Mr. Simpson's 
lending a favourable ear to his complaint, but 
the Colonel did not appear to perceive this, 
and went on : 

*And here's a sixpence — no, I see it's a 
shilling-and you be off home, and don't 
think any more about it.' 

The youth hurried off with agitated thanks, 
and the Colonel and Parkins went round to 
the front of the Globe and reconnoitred. There 
was only one window answering to the descrip- 
tion they had been hearing. 

*Well, that's curious,' said Parkins; *it's 
evidently my window the lad was talking 
about. Will you come up for a moment. 
Colonel Wilson ? We ought to be able to see 
if anyone has been taking liberties in my 


^ihty irere toon in tlie poaug^ and 
made » tf to open tlie docMc Then he sbofipcd 
and felt tn Im pocketaiu 

^ Thtt is nKne jsenocis than I thoMJit,' ws 
hbfiext remark. ^Iremembernoirtfaatbcfiave 
I iitarted this morning I locked tfae door. It is 
locked now, aod^ what is more, here is the key.^ 
And he heW it up* * Now/ he went on, -if 
the servants are in the habit of gmng into 
one^s room during the day idien cxie is away, 
I can only say that — ^well, that I don't ap- 
prove of it at alL' Conscious of a somewhat 
weak climax, he busied himself in opoiing 
the door (which was indeed locked) and in 
lighting candles. *No/ he said, * nothing 
seems disturbed/ 

* Except your bed,' put in the ColoneL 

* Excuse me, that isn't my bed,' said Parkins. 
• I don't use that one. But it does look as if 
Nouieoue had been playing tricks with it.' 

It certainly did: the clothes were bimdled 
up and twisted together in a most tortuous 
confusion. Parkins pondered. 

' That must be it,' he said at last : * I dis- 


ordered the clothes last night in unpacking, 
and they haven't made it since. Perhaps they 
came in to make it, and that boy saw them 
through the window ; and then they were 
called away and locked the door after them. 
Yes, I think that must be it.' 

* Well, ring and ask,' said the Colonel, and 
this appealed to Parkins as practical. 

The maid appeared, and, to make a long 
story short, deposed that she had made the bed 
in the morning when the gentleman was in the 
room, and hadn't been there since. No, she 
hadn't no other key. Mr. Simpson he kep' 
the keys ; he'd be able to tell the gentleman if 
anyone had been up. 

This was a puzzle. Investigation showed 
that nothing of value had been taken, and 
Parkins remembered the disposition of the small 
objects on tables and so forth well enough to 
be pretty sure that no pranks had been 
played with them. Mr. and Mrs. Simpson 
furthermore agreed that neither of them had 
given the duplicate key of the room to any 
person whatever during the day. Nor could 


Parkins, fair-minded man as he was, detect 
anything in the demeanour of master, mistress, 
or maid that indicated guilt. He was much 
more inclined to think that the boy had been 
imposing on the ColoneL 

The latter was imwontedly sUent and pen- 
sive at dinner and throughout the evening. 
When he bade good-night to Parkins, he mur- 
mured in a gruff undertone : 

' You know where I am if you want me 
during the night.' 

*Why, yes, thank you. Colonel Wilson, I 
think I do ; but there isn't much prospect of 
my disturbing you, I hope. By the way,' he 
added, *did I show you that old whistle T 
spoke of? I think not. Well, here it is.' 

The Colonel turned it over gingerly in the 
light of the candle. 

* Can you make anything of the inscription V 
asked Parkins, as he took it back. 

* No, not in this light. What do you mean 
to do with it V 

* Oh, well, when I get back to Cambridge I 
shall submit it to some of the archaeologists 


there, and see what they thmk of it ; and very- 
likely, if they consider it worth having, I may 
present it to one of the museimis.' 

• 'M !' said the ColoneL * Well, you may be 
right. All I know is that, if it were mine, I 
should chuck it straight into the sea. It's no 
use talking, I'm well aware, but I expect that 
with you it's a case of live and learn. I hope 
so, I'm sure, and I wish you a good-night.' 

He turned away, leaving Parkins in act to 
speak at the bottom of the stair, and soon each 
was in his own bedroom. 

By some unfortunate accident, there were 
neither blinds nor curtains to the windows of 
the Professor's room. The previous night he 
had thought little of this, but to-night there 
seemed every prospect of a bright moon rising 
to shine directly on his bed, and probably wake 
him later on. When he noticed this he was 
a good deal annoyed, but, with an ingenuity 
which I can only envy, he succeeded in rigging 
up, with the help of a railway-rug, some safety- 
pins, and a stick and umbrella, a screen which, 
if it only held together, would completely keep 


the moonlii^ c4Er fats bed. And sfaortfy after- 
wards he was cova&xtMy in that bed. When 
he had read a somewhat soSd wxxk long 
enough to produce a decided wish for sleep, 
he cast a drowsy glance round the rocHn, blew 
out the candle, and fell back npoa the piDow. 

He must have slept soundly for an hour or 
more, when a sudden clatter ^ook him i^ in a 
most unwelcome manner. In a momoit he 
realized what had happened: his carefully- 
constructed screen had given way, and a very 
bright frosty moon was shining directly on his 
face. This was highly anno3ring. Could he 
possibly get up and reconstruct the screen ? or 
could he manage to sleep if he did not ? 

For some minutes he lay and pondered over 
the possibilities ; then he turned over sharply, 
and with all his eyes open lay breathlessly 
listening. There had been a movement, he 
was sure, in the empty bed on the opposite 
side of the room. To-morrow he would have 
it moved, for there must be rats or something 
playing about in it. It was quiet now. No I 
the commotion began again. There was a 


rustling and shaking: surely more than any 
rat could cause 

I can figure to myself something of the 
Professor's bewilderment and horror, for I 
have in a dream thirty years back seen the 
same thing happen ; but the reader will hardly, 
perhaps, imagme how dreadful it was to him 
to see a figure suddenly sit up in what he 
had known was an empty bed. He was out 
of his own bed in one bound, and made a 
dash towards the window, where lay his only 
weapon, the stick with which he had propped 
his screen. This was, as it turned out, the 
worst thing he could have done, because the 
personage in the empty bed, with a sudden 
smooth motion, slipped from the bed and took 
up a position, with outspread arms, between 
the two beds, and in front of the door. 
Parkins watched it in a horrid perplexity. 
Somehow, the idea of getting past it and 
escaping through the door was intolerable to 
him ; he could not have borne — ^he didn't know 
why — to touch it ; and sls for its touching him, 
he would sooner dash himself through the 


window than have that happen. It stood for 
the moment in a band of dark shadow, and 
lie tiad not seen what its face was like. Xow 
it })egan to move, in a stooping posture, and 
all at once the spectator realized, with some 
horror and some relief, that it must be blind, 
for it seemed to feel about it with its muffled 
arms in a groping and random fashion. Turn- 
ing half away from him, it became suddenly 
conscious of the bed he had just left, and 
darted towards it, and bent and felt over the 
pillows in a way which made Parkins shudder 
as he had never in his life thought it possible. 
In a very lew moments it seemed to kna 
that the bed was empty, and then, movi 
forward into the area of light and facing the 
window, it showed for the first time what 
maimer of thing it was. 

I'arkins. who very much dislikes beii 
questioned about it, did once describe somd 
thing of it in my hearing, and I gathered th; 
what he chiefly remembers about it is 
horrible, an intensely horrible, face of cntmpled 
linen. VVliat expression he read upon it he 

- th^" 





could not or would not tell, but that the fear 
of it went nigh to maddening him is certain. 

But he was not at leisure to watch it for 
long. With formidable quickness it moved 
into the middle of the room, and, as it groped 
and waved, one comer of its draperies swept 
across Parkins's fece. He could not, though 
he knew how perilous a sound was — he 
could not keep back a cry of disgust, and this 
gave the searcher an instant due. It leapt 
towards him upon the instant, and the next 
moment he was halfway through the window 
backwards, uttering cry upon cry at the 
utmost pitch of his voice, and the linen £Eu^e 
was thrust dose into his own. At this, almost 
the last possible second, deliverance came, as 
you wiU have guessed : the Colonel burst the 
door open, and was just in time to see the 
dreadful group at the window. When he 
reached the figures only one was left. Parkins 
sank forward into the room in a faint, and 
before him on the floor lay a tumbled heap 
of bed-clothes. 

Colonel Wilson asked no questions, but 


busied himself keeping everyone else out of 
the room and in getting Parkins back to his 
bed ; and himself, wrappied in a rug, occupied 
the other bed, for the rest of the nighL 
Early on the next day Rogers arrived, more 
welcome than he would have been a day before, 
and the three of them held a very long con- 
sultation in the Professor's room. At the end 
of it the Colonel left the hotel door carrying 
a small object between his finger and thumb, 
which he cast as far into the sea as a very 
brawny arm could send it. Later on the 
smoke of a burning ascended from the back 
premises of the Globe. 

Exactly what explanation was patched up 
for the staff and visitors at the hotel I must 
confess I do not recollect. The Professor was 
somehow cleared of the ready suspicion of 
delirium tremens, and the hotel of the reputa- 
tion of a troubled house. 

There is not much question as to what 
would have happened to Parkins if the 
Colonel had not intervened when he did. He 
would either have fallen out of the window 


or else lost his wits. But it is not so evident 
what more the creature that came in answer 
to the whistle could have done than frighten. 
There seemed to be absolutely nothing 
material about it save the bed-clothes of which 
it had made itself a body. The Colonel, who 
remembered a not very dissimilar occurrence 
in India, was of opinion that if Parkins had 
closed with it it could really have done very 
little, and that its one power was that of 
frightening. The whole thing, he said, served 
to confirm his opinion of the Church of Rome. 
There is really nothing more to tell, but, as 
you may imagine, the Professor's views on 
certain points are less clear cut than they used 
to be. His nerves, too, have suffered: he 
cannot even now see a surplice hanging on a 
door quite unmoved, and the spectacle of a 
scarecrow in a field late on a winter afternoon 
has cost him more than one sleepless night. 



227 15 — 2 



^Verum usque in prsBsentem diem multa 
garriunt inter se Canonici de abscondito quo- 
dam istius Abbatis Thomas thesauro, quem 
saspe, quanquam adhuc incassum quaesiver- 
unt Steinfeldenses. Ipsum enim Thomam ad- 
huc florida in aetate existentem ingentem 
auri massam cu-ca monasterium defodisse per- 
hibent; de quo multoties interrogatus ubi 
essetf cum risu respondere solitus erat : ** Job, 
Johannes, et Zacharias vel vobis vel posteris 
indicabunt "; idemque aliquando adiieere se in- 
venturis minime invisurum. Inter alia huius 
Abbatis opera, hoe memoria prsecipue dignum 
iudico quod fenestram magnam in orientali 
parte alae australis in ecclesia sua imaginibus 



optime in vitro depietis impleverit : id quod ct 
ipsius effigies et insignia ibidem posita demons- 
trant. Domum quoque Abbatialem fere totam 
restauravit ; puteo in atrio ipsius effosso et 
lapidibus mamioreis pulchre Cielatis exornato. 
Decessit autem, morte aliquantulum subitanea 
perculsus, aetatis susb anno Ixxii*^", incamationis 
vera Dominige mdxxix".' 

'I suppose I shall have to translate this,' 
said the antiquary to himself, as he finished 
copying the above lines from that rather n 
and exceedingly diffuse book, the 'St 
Steinfeldeme Norbertinum.''* ' Well, it 
as well be done first as last,' and accon 
the following rendering was very quii 
produced : 

' Up to the present day there is much 
among the Canons about a certain hidd< 
treasure of this Abbot Thomas, for which 

• An account of the Premonstratensian abbey of 
Steinfeld, in the Eiffel, with lives of the Abbots, 
pubhahed at Cologne in 1712 by Christian Albert 
Erhard, a resident in the district. The epitl 
Norbertinum is due to the fact that St. Norbert n 
founder of the Premonstratensian Order. 


those of Steinfeld have often made search, 
though hitherto in vain. The story is that 
Thomas, while yet in the vigom* of life, con- 
cealed a very large quantity of gold some- 
where in the monastery. He was often 
asked where it was, and always answered, 
with a laugh: "Job, John, and Zechariah 
will tell either you or your successors." He 
sometimes added that he should feel no 
grudge against those who might find it. 
Among other works carried out by this Abbot 
I may specially mention his filling the great 
window at the east end of the south aisle of the 
church with figures admirably painted on glass, 
as his effigy and arms in the window attest. 
He also restored almost the whole of the 
Abbot's lodging, and dug a well in the court 
of it, which he adorned with beautiful carvings 
in marble. He died rather suddenly in the 
seventy-second year of his age, a.d. 1529.* 

The object which the antiquary had before 
him at the moment was that of tracing the 
whereabouts of the painted windows of the 
Abbey Church of Steinfeld. Shortly after the 


Revolution^ a very harge quantity of painted 

glass had made its way from the disscdved 

abbeys of Germany and Belgium to tfais 

country, and may now be seen adorning various 

of our parish churches, cathedrals, and private 

chapels. Steinfeld Abbey was among the most 

considerable of these involuntary contributors 

to our artistic possessions (I am quoting the 

somewhat ponderous preamble of the book 

which the antiquary wrote), and the greater 

part of the glass from that institution can be 

identified without much difficulty by the help, 

either of the numerous inscriptions in which 

the place is mentioned, or of the subjects of the 

windows, in which several well-defined cycles 

or narratives were represented. 

The passage with which I began my story 
had set the antiquary on the track of another 
identification. In a private chapel — no matter 
where — he had seen three large figures, each 
occupying a whole light in a window, and 
evidently the work of one artist. Their style 
made it plain that that artist had been a 
German of the sixteenth century ; but hitherto 


the more exact localizing of them had been a 
puzzle. They represented — will you be sur- 
prised to hear it ? — Job Patriarcha, Johannes 
EvANGELTSTA, Zacharias Propheta, and each 
of them held a book or scroll, inscribed with 
a sentence from his writings. These, as a 
matter of course, the antiquary had noted, 
and had been struck by the curious way in 
which they differed from any text of the 
Vulgate that he had been able to examine. 
Thus the scroll in Job's hand was inscribed: 
* Auro est locus in quo absconditur ' (for * con- 
flatur ')* ; on the book of John was : * Habent 
in vestimentis suis scripturam quam nemo 
novit't (for *in vestimento scriptum,' the 
following words being taken from another 
verse) ; and Zacharias had : * Super lapidem 
unum septem oculi sunt '| (which alone of the 
three presents an unaltered text). 

A sad perplexity it had been to our investi- 

♦ There is a place for gold where it is hidden. 

+ They have on their raiment a writing which no 
man knoweth. 

I Upon one stone are seven eyes. 


gator to think why these three personages 
should have been placed together in one 
window. There was no bond of connection 
between them, either historic, symbolic, or 
doctrinal, and he could only suppose that they 
must have formed part of a very large series 
of Prophets and Apostles, which might have 
filled, say, all the clerestory windows of some 
capacious church. But the passage from the 
* Sertum ' had altered the situation by showing 
that the names of the actual personages repre- 
sented in the glass now in Lord D *s chapel 

had been constantly on the lips of Abbot 
Thomas von Eschenhausen of Steinfeld, and 
that this Abbot had put up a painted widow, 
probably about the year 1520, in the south 
aisle of his abbey church. It was no very 
wild conjecture that the three figures might 
have formed part of Abbot Thomas's offering ; 
it was one which, moreover, could probably be 
confirmed or set aside by another carefiil 
examination of the glass. And, as Mr. Somer- 
ton was a man of leisure, he set out on pilgrim- 
age to the private chapel with very little delay. 


His conjecture was confirmed to the fiill. Not 
only did the style and technique of the glass 
suit perfectly with the date and place re- 
quired, but in another window of the chapel 
he found some glass, known to have been 
bought along with the figures, which con- 
tained the arms of Abbot Thomas von 

At intervals during his researches Mr. 
Somerton had been haunted by the recollec- 
tion of the gossip about the hidden treasure, 
and, as he thought the matter over, it became 
more and more obvious to him that if the 
Abbot meant anything by the enigmatical 
answer which he gave to his questioners, he 
must have meant that the secret was to be 
found somewhere in the window he had placed 
in the abbey church. It was undeniable, 
furthermore, that the first of the curiously- 
selected texts on the scrolls in the window 
might be taken to have a reference to hidden 

Every feature, therefore, or mark which 
could possibly assist in elucidating the riddle 


which, he felt sure, the Abbot had set to 
posterity he noted with scrupolous caie, and, 
returning to his Berkshire manor-house, con- 
sumed many a pint of the midnight oil over 
his tracings and sketches. After two or three 
weeks, a day came when Mr. Somerton an- 
nounced to his man that he must pack his 
own and his master's things for a short journey 
abroad, whither for the moment we will not 
follow him. 


Mr. Gregory, the Rector of Parsbury, had 
strolled out before breakfast, it being a fine 
autumn morning, as far as the gate of his 
carriage-drive, with intent to meet the post- 
man and sniff the cool air. Nor was he 
disappointed of either purpose. Before he 
had had £ime to answer more than ten or 
eleven of the miscellaneous questions pro- 
pounded to him in the Ughtness of their hearts 
by his young offspring, who had accompanied 
him, the postman was seen approaching ; and 


among the morning's budget was one letter 
bearing a foreign postmark and stamp (which 
became at once the objects of an eager com- 
petition among the youthful Gr^orys), and 
was addressed iii an uneducated, but plainly 
an English hand. 

When the Rector opened it, and tinned to 
the signature, he realized that it came from 
the confidential valet of his friend and squire, 
Mr. Somerton. Thus it ran : 


^Has I am in a great anxeity about 
Master I write at is Wish to Beg you Sir if 
you could be so good as Step over. Master 
Has add a Nastey Shock and keeps His Bedd. 
I never Have known Him like this but No 
wonder and Nothing wiU serve but you Sir. 
Master says would I mintion the Short Way 
Here is Drive to Cobblince and take a 
Trap. Hopeing I Have maid all Plain, but 
am much Confused in Myself what with 
Anxiatey and Weakfiilness at Night. If I 
might be so Bold Sir it will be a Pleasure to 


see a Horniest Brish Face among all These 

Forig ones. 

* I am Sir 

* Your obed* Serv* 

* William Brown. 

^P.S.— The Villiage for Town I will not 
Turm. It is name Steenfeld.' 

The reader must be left to picture to himself 
in detaU the surprise, confusion and hurry of 
preparation into which the receipt of such a 
letter would be likely to plunge a quiet Berk- 
shire parsonage in the year of grace 1859. It 
is enough for me to say that a train to town 
was caught in the course of the day, and that 
Mr. Gregory was able to secure a cabin in the 
Antwerp boat and a place in the Coblentz 
train. Nor was it difficult to manage the 
transit from that centre to Steinfeld. 

I labour under a grave disadvantage as 
narrator of this story in that I have never 
visited Steinfeld myself, and that neither of 
the principal actors m the episode (from whom 
I derive my information) was able to give me 


aii3rthing but a vague and rather dismal idea 
of its appearance. I gather that it is a small 
place, with a large church despoiled of its 
ancient fittings ; a number of rather ruinous 
great buildings, mostly of the seventeenth 
century, surround this chiwch ; for the abbey, 
in conmion with most of those on the Conti- 
nent, was rebuilt in a luxurious fashion by its 
inhabitants at that period. It has not seemed 
to me worth while to lavish money on a visit 
to the place, for though it is probably far more 
attractive than either Mr. Somerton or Mr. 
Gregory thought it, there is evidently little, 
if anything, of first-rate interest to be seen — 
except, perhaps, one thing, which I should not 
care to see. 

The inn where the EngUsh gentleman and 
his servant were lodged is, or was, the only 
* possible' one in the village. Mr. Gregory 
was taken to it at once by his driver, and 
found Mr. Brown waiting at the door. Mr. 
Brown, a model when in his Berkshire home 
of the impassive whiskered race who are 
known as confidential valets, was now egre- 


giously out of his element, in a light tweed 
suit, anxious, almost irritable, and plainly any- 
thing but master of the situation. His relief 
at the sight of the ' honest British £Eice ' of his 
Rector was unmeasured, but words to describe 
it were denied him. He could only say : 

* Well, I ham pleased, I'm siu^, sir, to see 
you. And so I'm sure, sir, will master.' 

* How is your master. Brown V Mr. Gregory 
eagerly put in. 

* I think he's better, sir, thank you ; but he's 
had a dreadful tune of it. I 'ope he's gettin' 
some sleep now, but ' 

*What has been the matter — I couldn't 
make out from your letter ? Was it an acci- 
dent of any kind V 

' Well, sir, I 'ardly know whether I'd better 
speak about it. Master was very partickler 
he should be the one to tell you. But there's 
no bones broke — that's one thing I'm sure we 
ought to be thankful ' 

' What does the doctor say V asked Mr. 

They were by this time outside Mr. Somer- 


ton's bedroom door, and speaking in low tones. 
Mr. Gr^ory, who happened to be in firont, 
was feeling for the handle, and chanced to run 
his fingers over the panels. Before Brown 
could answer, there was a terrible cry firom 
within the roonL 

^ In Gkxl's name, who is that V were the first 
words they heard. * Brown, is it V 

* Yes, sir — ^me, sir, and Mr. Gregory,' Brown 
hastened to answer, and there was an audible 
groan of relief in reply. 

They entered the room, which was darkened 
against the afternoon sun, and Mr. Gregory 
saw. with a shock of pity, how drawn, how 
damp with drops of fear, was the usually calm 
face of his fiiend, who, sitting up in the cur- 
tained bed, stretched out a shaking hand to 
welcome him. 

* Better for seeing you, my dear Gregory,' 
was the reply to the Hector's first question; 
and it was palpably true. 

After five minutes of conversation Mr. 
Somerton was more his own man. Brown 
afterwards reported, than he had been for 



days. He was able to eat a more than respect- 
able dinner, and talked confidently of being 
fit to stand a journey to Coblentz within 
twenty-four hours. 

* But there's one thing,' he said, with a 
return of agitation which Mr. Gregory did not 
like to see, * which I must beg you to do for 
me, my dear Gregory. Don't,' he went on, 
laying his hand on Gregory's to forestall any 
interruption — * don't ask me what it is, or why 
I want it done. I'm not up to explaining it 
yet ; it would throw me back — undo all the 
good you have done me by coming. The only 
word I will say about it is that you run no risk 
whatever by doing it, and that Brown can and 
will show you to-morrow what it is. It's 

merely to put back — ^to keep — something 

No ; 1 can't speak of it yet. Do you mind 
calling Brown ?' 

*Well, Somerton,' said Mr. Gregory, as he 
crossed the room to the door, * I won't ask for 
any explanations till you see fit to give them. 
And if this bit of business is as easy as you 
represent it to be, I will very gladly under- 


take it for you the first thing m the morn- 

* Ah, I was sure you would, my dear Gregory ; 
I was certain I could rely on you. I shall 
owe you more thanks than I can tell. Now, 
here is Brown. Brown, one word with you.' 

* Shall I go V interjected Mr. Gregory. 

* Not at all. Dear me, no. Brown, the 
first thing to-morrow morning— (you don't 
mind early hours, I know, Gregory) — you 
must take the Rector to — there, you know' 
(a nod jfrom Brown, who looked grave and 
anxious), * and he and you will put that back. 
You needn't be in the least alarmed ; it's per- 
fectly safe in the daytime. You know what I 
mean. It lies on the step, you know, where 
— ^where we put it.' (Brown swallowed dryly 
once or twice, and, failing to speak, bowed.) 
*And — yes, that's all. Only this one other 
word, my dear Gregory. If you can manage 
to keep jfrom questioning Brown about this 
matter, I shall be still more bound to you. 
To-morrow evening, at latest, if all goes well, 
I shall be able, I believe, to tell you the whole 



st<»y from start to finish. And now 111 wi^ 
you good-night. Brown will be with me — he 
sleeps here — and if I were you, I should lock 
my door. Yes, be particular to do that. 
They — they like it, the people here, and 
better. Good-night, good-night.' 

ITiey parted upon this, and if Mr. Gregory 
woke once or twice in the small hours and 
fancied he heard a fumbling about the lower 
part of his locked door, it was, perhaps, no 
more than what a quiet man, suddenly plunged 
into a strange bed and the heart of a mystery, 
might reasonably expect. Certainly he thought, 
to the end of his days, that he had heard such 
a sound twice or three times between midnight 
and dawn. 

He was up with the sun, and out in ci 
pany with Brown soon after. Perplexing as 
was the service he had been asked to perform 
for Mr. Somerton, it was not a difficult or 
alarming one, and within half an hour 
his leaving the inn it was over. What it 
I shall not as yet divulge. 

Later in the morning Mr. Somerton, 



almost himself again, was able to make a start 
from Steinfeld; and that same evenmg, whether 
at Coblentz or at some intermediate stage on 
the journey I am not certain, he settled down 
to the promised explanation. Brown was 
present, but how much of the matter was 
ever really made plain to his comprehension 
he would never say, and I am unable to 


This was Mr. Somerton's story : 

* You know roughly, both of you, that this 
expedition of mine was undertaken with the 
object of tracing something in connection 

with some old painted glass in Lord D 's 

private chapeL Well, the staxting-point of 
the whole matter lies in this passage from an 
old printed book, to which I will ask your 

And at this point Mr. Somerton went care- 
fully over some ground with which we are 
already familiar. 


* On my second visit to the chapel,' he went 
on, *my purpose was to take every note I 
could of figures, lettering, diamond-scratchings 
on the glass, and even apparently accidental 
markings. The first point which I tackled was 
that of the inscribed scrolls. I could not 
doubt that the first of these, that of Job — 
" There is a place for the gold where it is 
hidden" — with its intentional alteration, must 
refer to the treasure ; so I applied myself with 
some confidence to the next, that of St. John — 
" They have on their vestures a writing which 
no man knoweth." The natural question will 
have occurred to you ; Was there an inscrip- 
tion on the robes of the figures ? I could see 
none ; each of the three had a broad black 
border to his mantle, which made a con- 
spicuous and rather ugly feature in the 
window. I was nonplussed, I will own, and 
but for a curious bit of luck I think I should 
have left the search where the Canons of Stein- 
feld had left it before me. But it so happened 
that there was a good deal of dust on the sur- 
face of the glass, and Lord D , happening 


to come in, noticed my blackened hands, and 
kindly insisted on sending for a Turk's head 
broom to clean down the window. There 
must, I suppose, have been a rough piece in 
the broom ; anyhow, as it passed over the 
border of one of the mantles, I noticed that 
it left a long scratch, and that some yellow 
stain instantly showed up. I asked the man 
to stop his work for a moment, and ran up the 
ladder to examine the place. The yellow stain 
was there, sure enough, and what had come 
away was a thick black pigment, which had 
evidently been laid on with the brush after 
the glass had been burnt, and could therefore 
be easily scraped off without doing any harm. 
I scraped, accordingly, and you will hardly 
believe — ^no, I do you an injustice ; you will 
have guessed abeady — that I found under this 
black pigment two or three clearly -formed 
capital letters in yellow stain on a clear 
ground. Of course, I could hardly contain 
my delight. 

* I told Lord D that I had detected 

an inscription which I thought might be very 


interesting, and bagged to be jflowed to un- 
cover the whole of iL He made no difficulty 
about it whatever, told me to do exadfy as I 
pleased, and then, having an engagement, was 
obliged — ^rather to my relief I must say — to 
leave me. I set to work at mice, and found 
the task a fiiirly easy one. The pigment, 
disintegrated, of coiurse, by time, came ofif 
almost at a touch, and I don't think that it 
took me a couple of hours, all told, to clean 
the whole of the black borders in all three 
lights. Each of the figures had, as the in- 
scription said, ^^a writing on their vestures 
which nobody knew." 

* This discovery, of course, made it abso- 
lutely certain to my mind that I was on the 
right track. And, now, what was the inscrip- 
tion? While I was cleaning the glass I 
almost took pains not to read the lettering, 
saving up the treat until I had got the whole 
thing clear. And when that was done, my 
dear Gregory, 1 assure you I could almost 
have cried from sheer disappointment. What 
I read was only the most hopeless jumble of 


letters that was ever shaken up in a hat. 
Here it is : 







* Blank as I felt and must have looked for 
the first few minutes, my disappointment 
didn't last long. I realized almost at once 
that I was dealing with a cipher or crypto- 
gram ; and I reflected that it was likely to be 
of a pretty simple- kind, considering its early 
date. So I copied the letters with the most 
anxious care. Another little point, I may tell 
you, turned up in the process which confirmed 
my belief in L cipher. After copying the 
letters on Job's robe I counted them, to make 
sure that I had them right There were 
thirty-eight ; and, just as I finished going 
through them, my eye fell on a scratching 
made with a sharp point on the edge of the 
border. It was simply the number xxxviii 


in Roman numerals. To cut the matter 
short, there was a sunilar note, as I may 
call it, in each of the other lights ; and that 
made it plain to me that the glass-painter 
had had very strict orders jfrom Abbot Thomas 
about the inscription, and had taken pains to 
get it correct. 

* Well, after that discovery you may imagine 
how minutely I went over the whole surface 
of the glass in search of further light. Of 
course, I did not neglect the inscription on the 
scroll of Zechariah — " Upon one stone are seven 
eyes," but I very quickly concluded that this 
must refer to some mark on a stone which 
could only be found in situ^ where the treasure 
was concealed. To be short, I made all pos- 
sible notes and sketches and tracings, and 
then came back to Parsbury to work out the 
cipher at leisure. Oh, the agonies I went 
through ! I thought myself very clever at 
first, for I made sure that the key would be 
found in some of the old books on secret writing. 
The " Steganographia'' of Joachim Trithemius, 
who was an earlier contemporary of Abbot 


Thomas, seemed particularly promising ; so I 
got that, and Selenius's " Cryptographia *' and 
Bacon " de Augmentis ScientiaruMy' and some 
more. But I could hit upon nothing. Then 
I tried the principle of the "most jfrequent 
letter," taking first Latin and then German as 
a basis. That didn't help, either ; whether it 
ought to have done so, I am not clear. And 
then I came back to the window itself, and 
read over my notes, hoping almost against 
hope that the Abbot might himself have some- 
where supplied the key I wanted. I could 
make nothing out of the colour or pattern of 
the robes. There were no landscape back- 
grounds with subsidiary objects ; there was 
nothing in the canopies. The only resource 
possible seemed to be in the attitudes of the 
figures. " Job," I read : " scroll in left hand, 
forefinger of left hand extended upwards. 
John : holds inscribed book in left hand ; with 
right hand blesses, with two fingers. Zechariah : 
scroU in left hand ; right hand extended 
upwards, as Job, but with three fingers point- 
ing up." In other words, 1 [reflected. Job has 


one finger extended, John has trvo, Zechariah 
has three. May not there be a numeral key 
concealed in that ? My dear Gregory,' said 
Mr. Somerton, laying his hand on his friend's 
knee, ' that was the key. I didn't get it to fit 
at first, but after two or three trials I saw what 
was meant. After the first letter of the in- 
scription you skip one letter, aft^r the next you 
skip tzto, and after that skip three. Now 1 
at the result I got. I've underlined the let! 
which form words : 




' Do you see it ? " Decern nulUa 
reposita sunt in piiteo in at . . ." (Ten 
thousand [pieces] of gold are laid up in a well 
in . . .), followed by an incomplete word begin- 
ning at. So far so good. I tried the same plan. 


with the remaining letters ; but it wouldn't 
work, and I fsuicied that perhaps the plaemg of 
dots after the three last letters might mdicate 
some difference of procedure. Then I thought 
to myself, " Wasn't there some allusion to a 
well m the account of Abbot Thomas in that 
book the * iSferti^m ' "? Yes, there was : he built 
a puteus in atrio (a well in the court). There, 
of course, was my word atrio. The next step 
was to copy out the remaining letters of the 
inscription, omitting those I had already used. 
That gave what you will see on this slip : 


* Now, I knew what the three first letters I 
wanted were — ^namely, rio — ^to complete the 
word atrio; and, as you wUl see, these are all to 
be found in the first five letters. I was a little 
confused at first by the occurrence of two T*, 
but very soon I saw that every alternate letter 
must be taken in the remainder of the inscrip- 
tion. You can work it out for yourself; the 


result, continuing where the first " round " left 
off, is this : 

^' rio domus abbatialis de Steinfeld a me, Thoma, qui 
posui custodem fiuper ea. Gare a qui la touche.^ 

' So the whole secret was out : 

^^ Ten thousand pieces of gold are laid up in the well 
in the court of the Abbofs house of Steinfeld by me, 
Thomas, who have set a guardian over them, Gare a 
qui la touche.'^ 

' The last words, I ought to say, are a 
device which Abbot Thomas had adopted. I 
found it with his arms in another piece of 

glass at Lord D 's, and he drafted it bodily 

into his cipher, though it doesn't quite fit in 
point of grammar. 

' Well, what would any human being have 
been tempted to do, my dear Gregory, in my 
place ? Could he have helped setting ofi*, as I 
did, to Steinfeld, and tracing the secret literally 
to the fountain-head? I don't believe he 
could. Anyhow, I couldn't, and, as I needn't 
tell you, I found myself at Steinfeld as soon 
as the resources of civilization could put me 


there, and installed myself in the inn you saw. 
I must tell you that I was not altogether jfree 
from forebodings — on one hand of disappoint- 
ment, on the other of danger. There was 
always the possibility that Abbot Thomas's 
well might have been wholly obliterated, or 
else that someone, ignorant of cryptograms, 
and guided only by luck, might have stumbled 
on the treasure before me. And then ' — there 
was a very perceptible shaking of the voice 
here — *I was not entirely easy, I need not 
mind confessing, as to the meaning of the 
words about the guardian of the treasure. 
But, if you don't mind, I'll say no more about 
that until — until it becomes necessary. 

* At the first possible opportunity Brown and 
I began exploring the place. I had naturally 
represented myself as being interested in the 
remains of the abbey, and we could not avoid 
pajdng a visit to the church, impatient as I 
was to be elsewhere. Still, it did interest me 
to see the windows where the glass had been, 
and especially that at the east end of the south 
aisle. In the tracery lights of that I was 


startled to see some fragments and coats-of- 
arms remaining — Abbot Thomas's shield was 
there, and a small figure with a scroll inscribed 
" Oculos habent, et non videbunt " (They have 
eyes, and shall not see), which, I take it, was a 
hit of the Abbot at his Canons. 

' But, of course, the principal object was to 
find the Abbot's house. There is no prescribed 
place for this, so far as I know, in the plan of 
a monastery ; you can't predict of it, as you can 
of the chapter-house, that it will be on the 
eastern side of the cloister, or, as of 
dormitory, that it will communicate with 
transept of the church. I felt that 
asked many questions I might a.\ 
Ihigering memories of the treasure, and 
thought it best to try first to discover it for 
myself. It was not a very long or difficult 
search. That tliree-sided court south-east of 
the church, with deserted piles of building 
round it, and grass-grown pavement, which you 
saw this morning, was the place. And glad 
enough I was to see that it was put to no use, 
and was neither very far from our inn nor over- 

1 the I 
' the I 
ith a J 



looked by any inhabited building ; there were 
only orchards and paddocks on the slopes 
east of the church. I can teU you that 
fine stone glowed wonderfuUy in the rather 
watery yellow sunset that we had on the 
Tuesday afternoon. 

* Next, what about the weU ? There was not 
much doubt about that, as you can testify. It 
is really a very remarkable thing. That curb 
is, I think, of Italian marble, and the carving 
I thought must be Italian also. There were 
reliefs, you will perhaps remember, of Eliezer 
and Bebekah, and of Jacob opening the well 
for Rachel, and similar subjects ; but, by way 
of disarming suspicion, I suppose, the Abbot 
had carefully abstained from any of his cynical 
and allusive inscriptions. 

*I examined the whole structure with the 
keenest interest, of course — a square well-head 
with an opening in one side ; an arch over it, 
with a wheel for the rope to pass over, evi- 
dently in very good condition still, for it had 
been used within sixty years, or perhaps even 
later, though not quite recently. Then there 



was the question of depth and access to liie 
interior. I suppose the depth was about six^ 
to seventy feet ; and as to the other point, it 
really seemed as if the Abbot had wished to lead 
searchers up to the very door of his treasure- 
house, for, as you tested for yourself, there 
were big blocks of stone bonded into the 
masonry, and leading down in a regular 
staircase round and round the inside of 

* It seemed almost too good to be trui 
wondered if there was a trap — if the stones 
were so contrived as to tip over when a weight 
was placed on them ; but I tried a good many 
with my own weight and with my stick, and 
all seemed, and actually were, perfectly 
firm. Of course, I resolved that Brown and 
1 would make an experiment that very 

* I was well prepared. Knowing the sort of 
place I should have to explore, I had brought 
a sufficiency of good rope and bands of web- 
bing to surround my body, and crossbars to 
hold to, as well as lanterns and candles and 




crowbars, all of which would go into a single 
carpet-bag and excite no suspicion. I satis- 
fied myself that my rope would be long 
enough, and that the wheel for the bucket 
was in good working order, and then we went 
home to dinner. 

* I had a little cautious conversation with 
the landlord, and made out that he would not 
be overmuch surprised if I went out for a stroll 
with my man about nine o'clock, to make 
(Heaven forgive me 1) a sketch of the abbey 
by moonlight. I asked no questions about the 
well, and am not likely to do so now. I fancy 
I know as much about it as anyone in Stein- 
feld : at least ' — with a strong shudder — * I 
don't want to know any more. 

* Now we come to the crisis, and, though I 
hate to think of it, I feel sure, Gregory, that it 
will be better for me in all ways to recall it 
just as it happened. We started. Brown and 
I, at about nine with our bag, and attracted no 
attention ; for we managed to slip out at the 
hinder end of the inn-yard into an alley which 
brought us quite to the edge of the village. 



In five minutes we were at the well, and for 
some little time we sat on the edge of the well- 
head to make sure that no one was stirring or 
spying on us. All we heard was some horses 
cropping grass out of sight further down the 
eastern slope. We were perfectly unobserved, 
and had plenty of light from the gorgeous fiiU 
moon to allow us to get the rope properly 
fitted over the wheel. Then I secured the 
band round my body beneath the arms. We 
attached the end of the rope very securely | 
a ring in the stonework. Brown took i 
lighted lantern and followed me ; I hat 
crowbar. And so we began to descend 
cautiously, feeling every step before we set 
foot on it, and scanning the walls in search 
any marked stone. 

' Half aloud I counted the steps as we won 
down, and we got as far as the thirty-eighth 
before I noted anything at all irregular in the 
surface of the masonry. Even here there was 
no mark, and I began to feel very blank, and 
to wonder if the Abbot's cryptogram could 
possibly be an elaborate hoax. At the forty- 




e set I 



ninth step the staircase ceased. It was with 
a very sinking heart that I began retracing 
my steps, and when I was back on the^thirty- 
eighth— Brown, with the lantern, being a step 
or two above me — I scrutinized the little bit 
of irregularity in the stonework with all my 
might ; but there was no vestige of a 

* Then it struck me that the texture of the 
surface looked just a little smoother than the 
rest, or, at least, in some way different. It 
might possibly be cement and not stone. I 
gave it a good blow with my iron bar. There 
was a decidedly hollow sound, though that 
might be the result of our being in a welL 
But there was more. A great flake of cement 
dropped on to my feet, and I saw marks on 
the stone underneath. I had tracked the 
Abbot down, my dear Gregory; even now 
I think of it with a certain pride. It took 
but a very few more taps to clear the whole 
of the cement away, and I saw a slab of stone 
about two feet square, upon which was en- 
graven a cross. Disappointment again, but 



only for a moment. It was you. Brown, who 
reassured me by a casual remark. You said, 
if I remember right : 

It's a fimny cross; looks like a lot of 

* I snatched the lantern out of your hand, 
and saw with inexpressible pleasure that the 
cross was composed of seven eyes, four in' 
a vertical line, three horizontal. The last of 
the scrolls in the window was explained in the 
way I had anticipated. Here was my " stone 
with the seven eyes." So far the Abbot's data 
had been exact, and, as I thought of this, the 
anxiety about the " guardian " returned upon 
me with increased force. Still, I wasn't going 
to retreat now. 

* Without giving myself time to think, I 
knocked away the cement all round the 
marked stone, and then gave it a prise on the 
right side with my crowbar. It moved at 
once, and I saw that it was but a thin 
light slab, such as I could easily lift out 
myself, and that it stopped the entrance to a 
cavity. I did lift it out unbroken, and set it 


on the step, for it might be very important 
to us to be able to replace it. Then I waited 
for several minutes on the step just above. 
I don't know why, but I think to see if any 
dread&l thing would rush out. Nothing 
happened. Next I lit a candle, and very 
cautiously I placed it inside the cavity, with 
some idea of seeing whether there were foul 
air, and of getting a glimpse of what was 
inside. There was some foulness of air which 
nearly extinguished the flame, but in no long 
time it burned quite steadily. The hole went 
some little way back, and also on the right 
and left of the entrance, and I could see some 
rounded light-coloured objects within which 
might be bags. There was no use in waiting. 
I faced the cavity, and looked in. There was 
nothing immediately in the front of the hole. 
I put my arm in and felt to the right, very 
gingerly. . . . 

* Just give me a glass of cognac. Brown. 
Ill go on in a moment, Gregory. . . . 

* Well, I felt to the right, and my fingers 
touched something curved, that felt — yes — 


mare or less like leather ; dampish it was, and 
evidently part of a heavy, full thing. Theie 
was nothing, I must say, to alarm one. I 
grew bolder, and putting both hands in as 
weU as I could, I pulled it to me, and it 
came. It was heavy, but moved more easily 
than I had expected. As I pulled it towards 
the entrance, my left elbow knocked over 
and extinguished the candle. I got the thing 
feirly in front of the mouth and began draw- 
ing it out. Just then Brown gave a sharp 
ejaculation and ran quickly up the steps with 
the lantern. He will teU you why in a 
moment. Startled as I was, I looked roimd 
after him, and saw him stand for a minute 
at the top and then walk away a few yards. 
Then I heard him call softly, " AU right, sir," 
and went on pulling out the great bag, in 
complete darkness. It hung for an instant 
on the edge of the hole, then slipped forward 
on to my chest, and put its arms round my 

*My dear Gregory, I am telling you the 
exact truth. I believe I am now acquainted with 


the extremity of terror and repulsion which 
a man can endure without losing his mind. I 
can only just manage to tell you now the 
bare outline of the experience. I was con- 
scious of a most horrible smell of mould, and 
of a cold kind of face pressed against my own, 
and moving slowly over it, and of several — 
I don't know how many — legs or arms or 
tentacles or something clinging to my body. I 
screamed out. Brown says, like a beast, and 
fell away backward from the step on which 
I stood, and the creature slipped downwards, 
I suppose, on to that same step. Providen- 
tially the band round me held firm. Brown 
did not lose his head, and was strong 
enough to pull me up to the top and get 
me over the edge quite promptly. How he 
managed it exactly I don't know, and I think 
he would find it hard to tell you. I believe 
he contrived to hide our implements in the 
deserted building near by, and with very great 
difficulty he got me back to the inn. I was 
in no state to make explanations, and Brown 
knows no German ; but next morning I told 


the people s 

! tale of ha\-ing had a bad fall 

; some t 

in tlie abbey ruins, which, I suppose, they 
beUeved. And now, before I go forther, I 
should just like you to hear what Brown's 
experiences during those few minutes were. 
Tell the Rector, Brown, what you told 

' Well, sir,' said Brown, speaking low and 
nervously, ' it was just this way. Master was 
busy down in front of the 'ole, and I was 
'olding the lantern and looking on, when I 
'card somethink drop in the water from the 
top, as I thought. So I looked up, and I see 
someone's 'ead lookin' over at us. I s'pose I 
must ha' said somethink, and I 'eld the light up 
and run up the steps, and my light shone right 
on the face. That was a bad un, sir, if ever 
T see one ! A holdish man, and the face very 
much fell in, and lariin, as I thought. And 
I got up the steps as quick pretty nigh as I'm 
tellin' you, and when I was out on the ground 
there wam't a sign of any person. There 
'adn't been the time for anyone to get away, 
let alone a hold chap, and I made sure he 


wam't crouching down by the well, nor 
nothink. Next thinfi; I hear master cry out 
somethhi 'orrible. L haUI see wJ him 
hanging out by the rope, and, as master says, 
*owever I got him up I couldn't tell you/ 

* You hear that, Gregory V said Mr. Somer- 
ton. *Now, does any explanation of that 
incident strike you V 

' The whole thing is so ghastly and abnormal 
that I must own it puts me quite off my 
balance; but the thought did occur to me 
that possibly the — ^weU, the person who set 
the trap might have come to see the success 
of his plan.' 

' Just so, Gregory, just so. 1 can think of 
nothing else so — likely ^ I should say, if such a 
word had a place anywhere in my story. I 
think it must have been the Abbot. . . . 
Well, I haven't much more to teU you. I 
spent a miserable night. Brown sitting up with 
me. Next day I was no better ; unable to get 
up ; no doctor to be had ; and, if one had been 
available, I doubt if he could have done much 
for me. I made Brown write off to you, and 


Spent a second terrible night. And, Gregory, 
of this I am sure, and I think it affected me 
more than the first shock, for it lasted longer : 
there was someone or something on the watch 
outside my door the whole night. I almost 
fency tliere were two. It wasn't only the 
faint noises I heard from time to time all 
through the dark hours, but there was the 
smeU — the hideous smell of mould. Every 
rag I had had on me on that first evening I had 
stripped off and made Brown take it away, I 
beUeve he stuffed the things into the stove in 
his room ; and yet the smell was there, as in- 
tense as it had been in the well ; and, what is 
more, it came from outside the door. But 
with the first glimmer of dawn it faded out, 
and the sounds ceased, too ; and that convinced 
me that the thing or things were creatures of 
darkness, and could not stand the daylight ! 
and so I was sure that if anyone could put 
back the stone, it or they would be power- ■ 
less until someone else took it away again. 
I had to wait until you came to get that done. 
Of course, I couldn't send Brown to do it by 


himself, and still less could I tell anyone 
who belonged to the place. 

* Well, there is my story ; and, if you don't 
believe it, I can't help it. But I think you 

* Indeed,' said Mr. Gregory, * I can find no 
alternative. I must believe it I I saw the 
well and the stone myself, and had a glimpse, 
I thought, of the bags or something else in the 
hole. And, to be plain with you, Somerton, 
I believe my door was watched last night, 

*I dare say it was, Gregory; but, thank 
goodness, that is over. Have you, by the 
way, anything to tell about your visit to that 
dreadful place ?' 

' Very little,' was the answer. * Brown and 
I managed easily enough to get the slab into 
its place, and he fixed it very firmly with the 
u-ons and wedges you had desired him to get, 
and we contrived to smeax the surface with 
mud so that it looks just like the rest of the 
wall. One thing I did notice in the carving on 
the well-head, which I think must have escaped 


you. It was a horrid, grotesque shape — ^per- 
haps more like a toad than anj^thing else, and 
there was a label by it inscribed with the two 
words, " Depositum custodL" '* 

* ^ Keep that which is committed to thee.^ 









3 2044 uuu 

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